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IT ^ 

— • * < J 

(ILz^^^ A-^— t 

/ f 

/ V 

Is There Anything New Under 

THE Sun? 

Is There Anything Kew Under 

THE Sun? 

■- I 4 




■-^ ^*^ 




Edwin ^ njorkman 

Mitchell Kennerley 
New York and London 


Copyright igii by Mitchell Kennerley 

Three of these essays have appeared in the 
can Review of Reviews"; three others in the 
'"; me in the "Intemattenal"; and one in 
hicago Evening Post" : all are now reprinted 
kind permission of the publications mentioned. 


^ ^^^ -/ ^ 

,v-«: '*" ^ 

C '^''^. 

' " ; '.y TO THE MEMORY 


whose loving sacrifices opened me a way 
toward self-expressive work 


Is there Anything New Under the Sun? 11 
Life's Higher Purpose 37 

From the Life Urge to the Life Spirit 73 


William James: A Builder of Ameri- 
can Ideals 121 

Henry Bergson: The Philosopher of 

Actuality 141 

The Serious Bernard Shaw 161 

John Galsworthy: Interpreter of 

Modernity 188 

A Lesser Anatole France of the Far 

North 201 

Poets and Reformers 217 

Art, Life, and Criticism 229 


''The thing that hath been, it is that which shall 
be; and that which is done is that which shall be 
done: and there is no new thing under the sun." — 

THERE is in our own time and genera- 
tion a growing impatience with the 
life-conception that makes out of fate not a 
stepping-stone under our feet but a mill- 
stone around our necks. More and more we 
are inclined to challenge that sad cry of the 
Preacher as the final sum and substance of 
what man may learn concerning life and 
himself. The moment is drawing nigh, I, 
for one, believe, when for this truth of the 
past, which tyrannically interposes itself be- 
tween us and the future, must be substituted 
a later and wider and higher truth based on 
the remarkable advance in knowledge made 

during the last few centuries. And what is 



this more recent truth in the last analysis 
but a recognition — gaining daily in strength 
and clearness — of life as endless change, as 
a never-ending rebirth on brighter and more 
far-visioned planes, as an eternal upward 
climb from darkness to light, from hatred to 
love, from infuriated slavery to self -surren- 
der in freedom? 

"That which is crooked cannot be made 
straight," declared the Preacher. And the 
Buddha cried: "Behold, O monks, the holy 
truth of suffering — ^birth is suffering, old 
age is suffering, disease is suffering, and 
death is suffering." 

The Preacher and the Buddha knew noth- 
ing but the fact of disease. Its nature was 
still hidden from them. And for this reason 
it seemed to them a blow struck at man from 
without— a castigation that might or might 
not be deserved, but which could not possibly 
be avoided. The intimate connection between 
cause and effect, though dimly felt both by 
the Sage of Palestine and the Prophet of 


India, was not yet grasped and mastered by 
their reasons. In so far as they foresaw the 
law of causation, it was only in the form 
which demands that the sins of the fathers be 
visited on the children unto the third and 
fourth generations. As a law bringing 
good no less than evil, and with equal 
inevitability, it was wholly foreign to them. 

To us of the present day, helped in our 
vision by the telescope, the microscope, the 
spectroscope, and a thousand other modem 
inventions, disease is always the logical effect 
of ascertainable causes. With the blind awe 
removed, we are able to realize it as a hint 
from life of error committed. And in so far 
as we succeed in revealing the nature of 
siTch an error, the disease depending on it 
will also be rendered avoidable for the 
future. Thus men have already been led 
into dreams of a coming day when disease 
will exist only as a sporadic and quickly 
checked relapse into past mistakes. 

Yes, crookedness is actually being made 
straight these days. By groping our way 


from link to link along the endless chain of 
cause and effect, we are discovering that 
much which used to be deemed fatal is little 
more than accidental. More and more 
effectively with every passing year we are 
also learning that the relationship of cause 
and effect cannot be pictured as a straight 
line, hut must be thought of rather as a 
series of widening circles. And we have 
come to understand how tremendous the 
force and scope of those spreading rings of 
effect may prove in comparison with the tiny 
causal point at their centre. Acting on this 
new knowledge, we are establishing such 
subtle and far-reaching connections as those 
between under-nourishment and crime, be- 
tween over-feeding and insanity. The sur- 
geon's scalpel has already helped more than 
one of life's supposedly helpless victims not 
only to see and hear, but to feel and think 
straight ; while the dietary of the practitioner 
i the exercises of the physical trainer are 
ning human rag-heaps into full-brained 
I fuU-brawned men and women. 


There is, of course, some crookedness that 
has its roots struck so deeply in the racial 
soil that we cannot yet prevail over it. Our 
means are still as limited as our knowledge, 
but, like this, they are rapidly expanding. 
Where a fault committed far back in the 
centuries has had the chance to eat itself into 
the very core of some line of descent, there 
we acknowledge temporary defeat. And 
with as much kindness as our purpose per- 
mits we propose to eliminate what we can- 
not set right. The parts thus affected may 
suffer — ^they have certainly a just cause for 
complaint. But whose is the fault? Their 
own? Or life's? No, answers modem science 
unequivocally to each of those questions. 
The fault must then lie with somebody or 
something that is smaller than life and larger 
than individual man: that means, with the 
stock, the group, the race. For we are not 
merely "ourselves." We are units within 
a larger whole. We are, in fact, parts of 
many larger entities, and with each one of 
these we may have to suffer in so far as it 


happens to violate some of life's immutable 

As disease is a warning of danger within 
the individual body, so disaster, distress and 
disease on a larger scale must be regarded 
as warnings that things are wrong within 
the social body. No longer do they confront 
us as unchangeable facts — as integral feat- 
ures of life. They are just symptoms that 
have a traceable cause and that call for ac- 
tion. And in almost every case the symp- 
toms are discovered, and the first impetus to 
remedial action given, by the pained outcries 
of some latter-day pessimist. For the pessi- 
mist uses the life he sees, with its many short- 
comings, as an excuse for condemning all 
life. And thus, while he is aiming futile 
arrows at that which lies beyond his reach, 
he assists in the task which Lester F. Ward 
had in mind when he said: "What the 
human race requires is to be awakened to a 
realization of its condition. It will then find 
a remedy for its woes." 

But evolution was undreamt of in the 


days of the arch-pessimist who wrote: "He 
that increaseth knowledge increaseth sor- 
row." With us, on the other hand, evolution 
is a fact that is assuming greater and greater 
predominance in our comprehension of life. 
No longer do we behold existence as a stag- 
nant pool — a pool which mirrors heaven on 
its surface, to be sure, but which nevertheless 
stinks with a decay that is inseparable from 
absence of movement. Before our rapt eyes 
life flows by like a mighty, restless, all-em- 
bracing current of energy. We are still so 
lately escaped from the blindness of the past 
that we continue to moum the quick passing 
of each new moment, which we try to hold 
and keep as a lasting "now." We are still 
encompassed by tarrying mists that tempt 
us into spending useful time on such argu- 
ments as that, after all, evolution and prog- 
ress are two wholly different terms. We can 
no longer deny that life moves — ^but filled 
as we are with the prejudices and supersti- 
tions handed down by our forefathers with 
the very blood flowing through our veins. 


we are still doubting whether the motion of 
life may really lead us forward. 

A new Galileo is needed. But when he 
comes, as come he must, he will not have to 
cry so loud or so long, nor will he be burnt 
at the stake for his wider vision of truth. 
The race is ready for him. The cry once 
raised by the right man, it will ring out from 
pole to pole, imtil the whole globe is set 
trembling with the triumph of its message. 
The world, the universe, life, man, every- 
thing, moves — and wherever there is motion, 
there what is cannot remain the same. 

The Preacher of Jerusalem was a man of 
"great estate," of solid possessions, and 
these, too, he found disappointing — as have 
others before and after him. The one thing 
that never seems to have occurred to him was 
that the trouble might lie within himself. 
"I made me great works," he tells us; "I 
builded me houses ; I planted me vineyards ; 
I made me gardens and orchards; ... I 
got me servants and maidens ; . . . Igath- 



ered me also silver and gold. ... So I 
was great, and increased more than all that 
were before me in Jerusalem." 

Much he made and much he got — ^but for 
whom? Note the "me" that accompanies 
each new item on his list! For himself he 
did and tried all those things — and the hap- 
piness they brought was worm-eaten. There 
are men to-day who may not even be counted 
more than worldly wise^ and who yet 
know that the great works and houses and 
vineyards and gardens which they enjoy 
most securely and most completely are those 
they ordain not for themselves but for others. 
Here, as in many other things, we find the 
Preacher simply a child of his own day, and 
not the master of all time. But let us get 
nearer the heart of his plaint. 

"And how dieth the wise man?" he called 
into the surrounding night. To which the 
answer came out of his own mouth: "As the 
fool. Therefore I hated life." 

This is probably to-day, as it has always 
been, the worst despair of all. The fear of 


death — how this motive runs like a black 
thread through all but an infinitesimal part 
of mankind's literature! "Woe upon the life 
of man, which lasts but a little while I" cried 
the Buddha. And at the heart of Schopen- 
hauer's dark look upon life lay the same re- 
sentment against his own dissolution. In 
Europe and the Indies — 4,000 years before 
Christ or 2,000 years after — it is always 
there: the fear of death I But taking its cue 
from the very men who oflfered mankind the 
bitterest drink ever prepared for it — from 
the Buddha and Schopenhauer, both of 
whom tried vainly to goad men into fore- 
stalling the inevitable — science has turned 
that fear inside out. And what is thus laid 
bare to us, we find astoundedly to be — the 
Will to Live, the joy of living, the pressure 

carries and moves 


Hain a fear — ^well, 
"Yes, I hated all 

:en under the sun: 


because I should leave it unto the man that 
shall be after me." 

There's the rub! — ^not the going of one, 
but the coming of the other. Yet men who 
were not counted wise — ^men led by feeling 
rather than by reasoned insight, by impulse 
rather than by what is generally called wis- 
dom — these have, in all times, labored for 
nothing so hard as for the hope of leaving a 
better lot, a brighter earth, for "the man that 
came after them." At first they were think- 
ing merely of the son, the daughter, the com- 
ing generations of their own blood — ^but 
gradually that thought grew and widened 
and rose, until it is now promising to 
embrace all generations of all mankind: 
Humanity. More and more we have grown 
to live outside of ourselves, ahead of our own 
limited hour. The future and the race are 
taking more and more of our feelings and 
cares and plans. We have gone on adding 
to our own selves — ^possessions, loves, kin- 
ships, friendships, loyalties, patriotisms — 
until to-day the centre of our being seems 


to have become projected far beyond its 
own boundaries in time and space. 

Still the fear of death has not departed 
from us. Why not? Let us read on. "For 
there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and 
in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man 
that hath not labored therein shall he leave 
it for his portion. This also is vanity and a 
great evil." 

Gradually we are admitting that a "great 
portion" should not pass to this man or that, 
without reference to his wisdom, knowledge 
or equity. The evil of such descent is 
already being acknowledged indirectly — 
through taxation gi incomes and inher- 
itances; through the rearing of Socialist 
Utopias; through the institution of trust 
foundations, and in a hundred other ways 
that are becoming inextricably woven into 
our social life. Instead of sighing over our 
inability to remain here as custodians of 
what we have brought together, we are com- 
ing to realize that, if we leave our portion 
not to this man or that — be he ever so near 


of kin — ^but to all men, then we may shed all 
fears that the needed wisdom and knowledge 
and equity for its proper handling be not 
forthcoming. For we are actually learning 
— ^although we swallow the lesson neither 
readily nor gracefully — that the decline of 
the world does not accompany our own. It 
comes hard, but we must acknowledge it: 
when our own shoulders are taken from 
under it, the world will not drop ! 

Guided, as always, by science, we are led 
on to see that when our own path begins to 
'slope downward, it is only in order that there 
may be room and energy available for still 
higher and more perfect incarnations of the 
life spirit — and just because our own degree 
of perfection has served its purpose and 
reaped its reward in the bearing of the new 
that is to take our places. We are foresee- 
ing, at last, that when this world of ours be- 
gins itself to descend toward its final disin- 
tegration, that, too, will happen only in 
order that there may be room and energy 


edge needed for its foundation. And there- 
fore he was able to write and mean that 
"Much study is a weariness of the flesh." 
Yet the travail of thousands of patient toil- 
ers has done this much for us : it has divulged 
the source and support of pessimism. Here 
it is well to recall the words of Rudolf Euc- 
ken: "He may not be called pessimist who 
merely feels the profundity of life's painful- 
ness, but only he who thereby is driven 
toward a ceasing of all struggle and toward / 
a weary resignation." 

True pessimism we find in the words of 
Schopenhauer: "Each individual existence 
is a definite mistake, a blunder, something 
that would be better not to have been, and 
the object of existence should be to end it." 
We find it again in these words written by 
Huysmans: "But that which remains for- 
ever incomprehensible is the initial horror, 
the horror imposed on each of us, of having 
to live, and that is a mystery which no phil- 
osophy can explain." 

This genuine pessimism seems to have been 


unknown to classic antiquity. So was indi- 
vidualism in our modem sense. These two 
principles — pessimism and individualism — 
must be considered all but inseparable. The 
tendency toward both has, of course, been 
with man ever since he became human. For 
the future lies wrapped in the past. And in 
the remotest day that was, the remotest day 
yet to come lay already foreshadowed. 

But individualism found its first tangible 
expression in Palestine somewhat before the 
time when the Preacher may be assumed to 
have lived. It took the form of a hope for 
personal salvation substituted for one of na- 
tional rejuvenation. It grew and spread 
during the centuries leading up to the ap- 
pearance of Christianity. And as Christi- 
anity has developed historically, it is simply 
syiStematized individualism based on a pes- 
simistic interpretation of our present life. 
But by giving him a foothold outside of this 
world — ^however imaginary — it has enabled 
man to wrench himself free from the tyran- 


nical sway exercised over him by the social 
group to which he belonged. 

Previously man was little more than an 
atom in the social molecule, a polyp doomed 
to help in the upbuilding of the coral reef of 
the city or the state. The change brought 
about by Christianity and other cooperating 
forces must not be pictured as a degenera- 
tion, although, like most deaths that bring 
new life, it proved so painful that its pangs 
are not yet outlived. Such a change was 
needed for life's further development, life 
having progressed as far as it could without 
the added impetus of less circumscribed indi- 
vidual variation. 

Evolutionary progress runs always from 
stability to flexibility. At first life seeks 
mainly to establish itself, to make sure of its 
own preservation, and for this fundamental 
purpose it requires chiefly order. But no 
sooner does life seem secure than it turns to 
perfection as its higher and more essential 
aim. And thence onward it demands a 
greater and greater degree of progress — 


that is, of flexibility — ^while order is more and 
more taken for granted. Conformation 
precedes variation as life's principal requi- 
site : and whatever life particularly requires, 
it nurses as the foremost virtue in its 

Individualism means above everything 
'else greater variability on the part of the 
human unit, together with a growing chance 
for this quality to assert itself against the 
resistance of tradition and custom. Con- 
formation, once the most desirable quality, is 
made to take a subordinate place, but not 
without a struggle — and "hence these tears." 
For the individual, having become conscious 
of a right on his part to what he calls free- 
dom, turns impatiently against any and 
every restriction. Having felt and seen the 
opposition between his own identity and all 
the rest of the universe, he will not rest satis- 
fied with anything less than the spreading of 
his own self over everything else, until the 
whole universe may be spoken of in terms of 
I and Me and Mine. 


This is individualism carried to its utmost 
consequence — and as such it plays a highly 
important part in life's economy. While 
inspired by such ambitions, man ventures 
upon all sorts of reckless undertakings. For 
these he pays often with his very existence, 
but none the less life profits by them. The 
fact that the innovator perishes when the 
world is not yet ready for the bursting of 
the form against which he rebels, does not 
mean that his innovation perishes with hun. 
The latter goes marching on, until the seem- 
ingly impossible happens, and the universe 
is actually made over in the image of the 
perished man's dream. 

In this struggle of new against old, the 
individual must suffer, of course, until he 
has learned what he is doing and what is 
being done by others. He cries bitterly be- 
cause of every limitation encountered by his 
self. Were he left unchecked to follow his 
own burning desire, he would go off at a 
tangent like a shooting star and the world 
would be reduced to chaos. But the principle 

 • • 

4 • 



that is, of flexibility — ^while order is more and 
more taken for granted. Conformation 
precedes variation as life's principal requi- 
site : and whatever life particulariy requires, 
it nurses as the foremost virtue in its 

Individualism means above everything 
'else greater variability on the part of the 
human unit, together with a growing chance 
for this quality to assert itself against the 
resistance of tradition and custom. Con- 
formation, once the most desirable quality, is 
made to take a subordinate place, but not 
without a struggle — and "hence these tears." 
For the individual, having become conscious 
of a right on his part to what he calls free- 
dom, turns impatiently against any and 
every restriction. Having felt and seen the 
opposition between his own identity and all 
the rest of the universe, he will not rest satis- 
fied with anything less than the spreading of 
his own self over everything else, until the 
whole universe may be spoken of in terms of 
I and Me and Mine. 


This is individualism carried to its utmost 
consequence — and as such it plays a highly- 
important part in life's economy. While 
inspired by such ambitions, man ventures 
upon all sorts of reckless undertakings. For 
these he pays often with his very existence, 
but none the less life profits by them. The 
fact that the innovator perishes when the 
world is not yet ready for the bursting of 
the form against which he rebels, does not 
mean that his innovation perishes with him. 
The latter goes marching on, until the seem- 
ingly impossible happens, and the universe 
is actually made over in the image of the 
perished man's dream. 

In this struggle of new against old, the 
individual must suffer, of course, until he 
ha^i learned what he is doing and what is 
being done by others. He cries bitterly be- 
cause of every limitation encountered by his 
self. Were he left unchecked to follow his 
own burning desire, he would go off at a 
tangent like a shooting star and the world 
would be reduced to chaos. But the principle 

 • • 

• • 

4 • 


that is, of flexibility — while order is more and 
more taken for granted. Conformation 
precedes variation as life's principal requi- 
site: and whatever life particularly requires, 
it nurses as the foremost virtue in its 

Individualism means above everything 
/else greater variability on the part of the 
I human unit, together with a growing chance 
for this quality to assert itself against the 
resistance of tradition and custom. Con- 
formation, once the most desirable quality, is 
made to take a subordinate place, but not 
without a struggle — and "hence these tears." 
For the individual, having become conscious 
of a right on his part to what he calls free- 
dom, turns impatiently against any and 
every restriction. Having felt and seen the 
sition between his own identity and all 
sst of the universe, he will not rest satis- 
fith anything less than the spreading of 
wn self over everything else, until the 
; universe may be spoken of in terms of 
I Me and Mine. 


This is individualism carried to its utmost 
consequence — and as such it plays a highly 
important part in life's economy. While 
inspired by such ambitions, man ventures 
upon all sorts of reckless undertakings. For 
these he pays often with his very existence, 
but none the less life profits by them. The 
fact that the innovator perishes when the 
world is not yet ready for the bursting of 
the form against which he rebels, does not 
mean that his innovation perishes with him. 
The latter goes marching on, until the seem- 
ingly impossible happens, and the universe 
is actually made over in the image of the 
perished man's dream. 

In this struggle of new against old, the 
individual must suffer, of course, until he 
has learned what he is doing and what is 
being done by others. He cries bitterly be- 
cause of every limitation encountered by his 
self. Were he left unchecked to follow his 
own burning desire, he would go off at a 
tangent like a shooting star and the world 
would be reduced to chaos. But the principle 


• • 


that is, of flexibility — while order is more and 
more taken for granted. Conformation 
precedes variation as life's principal requi- 
site: and whatever life particularly requires, 
it nurses as the foremost virtue in its 

Individualism means above everything 
/else greater variability on the part of the 
( human unit, together with a growing chance 
for this quality to assert itself against the 
resistance of tradition and custom. Con- 
formation, once the most desirable quality, is 
made to take a subordinate place, but not 
without a struggle — and "hence these tears." 
For the individual, having become conscious 
of a right on his part to what he calls free- 
dom, turns impatiently against any and 
every restriction. Having felt and seen the 
opposition between his own identity and all 
the rest of the universe, he will not rest satis- 
fied with anything less than the spreading of 
his own self over everything else, until the 
whole universe may be spoken of in terms of 
I and Me and Mine. 


This is individualism carried to its utmost 
consequence — and as such it plays a highly- 
important part in life's economy. While 
inspired by such ambitions, man ventures 
upon all sorts of reckless undertakings. For 
these he pays often with his very existence, 
but none the less life profits by them. The 
fact that the innovator perishes when the 
world is not yet ready for the bursting of 
the form against which he rebels, does not 
mean that his innovation perishes with him. 
The latter goes marching on, until the seem- 
ingly impossible happens, and the universe 
is actually made over in the image of the 
perished man's dream. 

In this struggle of new against old, the 
individual must suffer, of course, until he 
has learned what he is doing and what is 
being done by others. He cries bitterly be- 
cause of every limitation encountered by his 
self. Were he left unchecked to follow his 
own burning desire, he would go off at a 
tangent like a shooting star and the world 
would be reduced to chaos. But the principle 


^ .. 


4 . - • 


that is, of flexibility — while order is more and 
more taken for granted. Conformation 
precedes variation as life's principal requi- 
site: and whatever life particularly requires, 
it nurses as the foremost virtue in its 

Individualism means above everything 
/else greater variability on the part of the 
/ human unit, together with a growing chance 
for this quality to assert itself against the 
resistance of tradition and custom. Con- 
formation, once the most desirable quality, is 
made to take a subordinate place, but not 
without a struggle — and "hence these tears." 
For the individual, having become conscious 
of a right on his part to what he calls free- 
dom, turns impatiently against any and 
y restriction. Having felt and seen the 
jsition between his own identity and all 
•est of the universe, he will not rest satis- 
with anything less than the spreading of 
)wn self over everything else, until the 
[e universe may be spoken of in terms of 
d Me and Mine. 


This is individualism carried to its utmost 
consequence — and as such it plays a highly 
important part in life's economy. While 
inspired by such ambitions, man ventures 
upon all sorts of reckless undertakings. For 
these he pays often with his very existence, 
but none the less life profits by them. The 
fact that the innovator perishes when the 
world is not yet ready for the bursting of 
the form against which he rebels, does not 
mean that his innovation perishes with him. 
The latter goes marching on, until the seem- 
ingly impossible happens, and the universe 
is actually made over in the image of the 
perished Ln's dre«n. 

In this struggle of new against old, the 
individual must suffer, of course, until he 
has learned what he is doing and what is 
being done by others. He cries bitterly be- 
cause of every limitation encountered by his 
self. Were he left unchecked to follow his 
own burning desire, he would go off at a 
tangent like a shooting star and the world 
would be reduced to chaos. But the principle 

• • 

4 • 


of conformation remains all the time at work 
in the backgromid. It finds its embodiment 
in the mass as the selective agent that sits 
in judgment on all individual innovations, 
accepting what is felt to be life-promoting, 
and ruthlessly rejecting what is suspected of 
being life-retarding. 

A day must come, however — and perhaps 
it has already dawned — ^when all is accom- 
plished that may be gained through this kind 
of blind interaction, this apparently purpose- 
less fight between principles that are mu- 
tually ignorant of each others' natures and 
justifications. Does life then come to a 
stop? Hardly: for nothing that we have 
discovered so far indicates that life can ever 
stop. Instead we may — nay, must — assume 
that it rises to a still higher plane. As sta- 
bility had to be superseded by flexibility, so 
consciousness supersedes unconsciousness. 
From instinctive struggle for the boundless 
assertion of his own freedom, the individual 
passes onward to open-eyed recognition of 
the true relationship between himself and the 


race; while the race, on the other hand, be- 
comes increasingly aware of the part played 
by the individual as its own vanguard. 
When this happens, then individualism, as 
we understand it now, will have served its 
day. Something else will take its place — ^a 
new attitude of mind— and this coming 
mood of man is already "in the air." Call it 
socialism, mutualism, solidarism, anything 
you care — at heart it is going to mean just 
this : a voluntary surrender on the part of the 
individual self, whereby it will be assured of 
all the freedom it needs and wants within the 
limits of a larger self. 

One more quotation — the last one: "To 
everything there is a season, and a time to 
every purpose under the heaven." 

So there is, indeed. But he who wrote 
those words, and who gave as foremost in- 
stance "a time to be born, and a time to die," 
forgot to include "a time to be and a time to 
GEow." In our keen recognition of the fact 
that — ^to our limited vision — ^ascent always 


precedes descent; we have overlooked the 
possibility that the order of these two proc- 
esses might, perhaps, be reversible; that 
descent might prove ascent of a different, 
and maybe highe^, kind. It has been said 
that our capacity for growth is greatest just 
after birth and decreases steadily to the end, 
so that we may be said to be dying from the 
moment of our projection into life. This 
ingenious argument does not reckon with the 
fact that the earlier growth is largely a re- 
capitulation of the course ground into life 
by our innumerable forebears, while our later 
growth is more likely to be our own — ^to 
mark the one little step that we personally 
are able to add unto all those taken by the 
vast multitudes that have preceded us. And 
it is this one new step, this final venturing 
into the regions of still unshaped life, that 
takes the greatest capacity for growth and 
the greatest expenditure of vital energy. 

Flexibility may be greatest in childhood, 
but strength and endurance are not. Man, 
we know now, is strongest just before his 



strength begins to wane — and the future 
promises him as his richest fruit, not an 
abolishment of death, or even necessarily 
its postponement, but a prolongation of 
the period of growth — a preservation of 
physical and mental flexibility to a time 
of life when vital stability is most firmly 

Seen in the light of these new possibilities, 
the childhood and youth of man assume the 
part known to be played by the childhood 
and youth of life itself. These periods of 
vital development display the most rapid but 
not the most essential form of growth. If 
the analogy be true, the afternoon of life be- 
comes the real growing time — the time for 
the spending of which we have been brought 
into this world. And if we consider life in 
its entirety, it seems certain in the light of 
present knowledge that the time of mere 
BEING precedes and prepares the time of 

actual GROWING. 

"To everything there is a season" — ^yes, 
and the season of growth is dawning for this 


our world, as well as for mankind itself. 
Human life has become established in its 
humanity. What lies before us is the very 
essence and flower of our existence as a race : 
the moulding of the new form that shall re- 
ceive the torch from us and carry it up tri- 
mnphantly to the next plane of life. Once 
this has been accomplished, a seeming end 
will come to the old form. There will be 
an ebbtide presaging and preparing the next 
and still mightier floodtide of life. There 
will be a pause in the rhythm of being, but 
only in order that its beat may make itself 
more clearly and joyously felt. 

Mankind is turning into fruit in order 
that the new seed may be sown and sprout 
and grow and blossom and set fruit and add 
its new moment of perfection to the sum 
total of life. In such a consummation there 
is hope and purpose enough for me at least. 
And it is this new hopeful purpose, wrung 
from the message with which modern science 
is fraught, that has changed me from a be- 


liever in the past and in the part to a builder 
of the future and the whole. 

And therefore I cry joyfully and sin- 
cerely : there is always something new under 
the sun ! Each new day sees the whole world 
renewed. From millennium to millennium 
the advance may be barely perceptible. 
From aeon to aeon it must be so great that 
our eyes would be blinded, could they look 
that far. And by and by — ^as one new thing 
is added to the other, until gradually the past 
seems completely outgrown — there may 
come a new sun even: a spiritual, self-con- 
scious sun; a sun with a "soul"; a sun that to 
our present one is what man is to the blind, 
inflexible elements of inorganic matter. It 
is for the coming of the new — of the new 
man, and the new sun, and the new life, and 
the new god — ^that we should all be living 
and loving and working and dreaming. For 
surely the world does move I 

life's higher purpose 

IN the beginning life willed it that her 
creatures should serve her ends unwit- 
tingly, lest numbing fear or misdirected zeal 
lead them astray. For this reason she made 
them nearsighted almost to blindness, thus 
forcing them to take the means for the end, 
the road for the goal. And in place of far- 
sight and foresight she gave them for guides 
certain instincts planted so deeply in all of 
them as to become inalienable parts of their 
own natures. But because growth is her 
supreme law, she must needs confer upon 
them by slow degrees what at first she 
deemed it better to withhold. Moving more 
imperceptibly than the hour-hand on the 
dial — ^taking a thousand years for a single 
small step perhaps — she made them see and 
hear and think. And in that way came at 
last to the farthest advanced of her creatures 



some forebodings not only of what he and 
others around him were actually doing, but 
of the inner meanings and ulterior intentions 
of that vast, secret force which seems to be 
moving all things, himself included. 

From the present state of our knowledge 
it seems safe to conclude that whatever life 
does or causes its creatures to do has for its 
ultimate end the preservation and the per- 
fection of life itself. The law that existence 
must be continued at any cost embodies the 
fundamental principle, for the state of being 
is conditional to that of becoming something 
else. But the highest law, the most impera- 
tive, the one most essential to the spirit of 
life, is undoubtedly that of growth. It might 
even be said that life cared for its own pres- 
ervation only in order that it might reincar- 
nate itself in forms of ever-increasing per- 
fection. At the same time it craves to be 
and to grow both in the part and in the 
whole. In the process of evolution, which is 
the highest known expression of the life 
spirit, the specimen and the species, the indi- 


vidual and the race, are mutually conditional 
to each other. 

Thus we find that wherever life makes 
itself felt — ^in atom or in star, in forms sim- 
ple or complex, in matter that we term "life- 
less" or in spirit deemed by us "immortal" — 
there the forces employed on its errands 
group themselves in regard to four heads, 
so that we speak of them, now as static (ana- 
bolic) or kinetic (katabolic), and again as 
centripetal or centrifugal. These four heads 
represent so many cosmic tendencies. 
They are to us the cardinal points on life's 
compass. They are not identical with any 
known forces, but by them all known forms 
of energy are oriented, so to speak; and in 
all such forms two of them are always simul- 
taneously made manifest. For we know of 
no force that does not at once make for sta- 
bility or change, and for conformation o^ 

If we turn to man, we find that all his 
actions — ^using the word in its widest sense — 
are either preservative or perfective in their 


tendency. Whatever may be their imme- 
diate aspect, in the last analysis they are 
always traceable to the protection or the 
improvement of life. But it is not merely 
the life contained within that individual 
which is affected by them. From his birth 
man may be said to lead a dual existence. 
By reason of his origin, and regardless of 
any act of will on his part, he is at all times 
and forever both an individual being and a 
member of his race. There is no choice given 
him in the matter, and no more is it possible 
for him to be by turns one thing or the other. 
But although neither his personal nor his 
racial side can ever make itself felt independ- 
ently of the other, yet either one of them 
may take relative predominance for the mo- 
ment, or once for all, so that certain actions, 
or large portions of our existence, or our 
whole life, will be colored accordingly. And 
in this way the ultimate bearing of an action 
and the impulse underlying it may be pro- 
motive of self-preservation or race-preserva- 
tion, of self-perfection or of race-perfection. 


I have already indicated that there may be 
a discrepancy between the surface appear- 
ance and the actual inwardness of an action. 
In fact, the connection between the two is 
seldom evident to us, and only in recent time 
has man become aware that, in serving what 
seemed purely selfish interests, he might be 
furthering purposes lying far beyond the 
limits of his own being. Life has a shrewd 
way of leading us blindfold toward our goal 
by making us accept her means as ends in 
themselves. To make doubly sure of her 
purposes, she has established a system of 
rewards and punishments designed at once 
to tempt and to scare us into obeying her 
promptings. She has done this by planting 
within us certain desires and fears intimately 
connected with certain capacities for pleas- 
urable and painful sensations. These are the 
tangible springs that move us. 

Through the long ages that lie behind him, 
man has not been eating with a conscious 
purpose of safeguarding life, but to escape 
the pangs of hunger and to enjoy the sweet 


taste of food. , He has mated not to save the 
race from extinction, but that he might ex- 
perience the sweet transports of passion 
while avoiding the burning madness that fol- 
lows unrequited love. These examples are 
chosen from the simplest available for the 
illustration of the goads and brakes devised 
by life to further what helps it and to check 
what harms it. If we know to-day that we 
are being lured on toward subtly hidden 
ends, it is because life's road to perfec- 
tion invariably leads from unconsciousness 
through brute consciousness to reasoned con- 
sciousness of self and race. 

By studying the superficial phenomena of 
human life in the light of these newly re- 
vealed inner meanings, we are led to con- 
clude that the groups of forces at work for 
the preservation and perfection of individual 
and racial existence are represented within 
us by certain dominant impulses, certain 
MASTER INSTINCTS^ that Stamp and guide and 
utilize the incessant flow of impressions, 


thoughts, and emotions of which our self can 
almost be said to consist. 

These instincts are four in number, and 
for purposes of easy identification I have 
ventured to name them the well to be^ the 
WILL TO LOVE^ the WILL TO DO^ and the will 
TO RULE. They manifest theniselves in the 
race as a whole no less plainly than in each 
one of its individual members. They are the 
guardians, if not the arbiters of our 
destiny. They are the inner, inspired 
voices that speak with an authority 
not to be disregarded; the voices that 
pick our course and tell us where the 
reefs lurk, and where lie the deep, safe 
waters. They are impulses fraught with the 
power and dignity of passions that sway 
man's soul as the stormwind rocks, and at 
times even rends, the tree. Characterizing 
them roughly, I might say that the Will to 
Be stands for self-preservation, or con- 
flicting order; the Will to Love for race- 
preservation, or associative order; the Will 
to Do for self-preservation, or conflicting 


progress ; and the Will to Rule for race-per- 
fection^ or associative progress. 

According to psychology, our whole con- 
scious existence is determined, first, by the 
varying power of things to interest us; and 
secondly, by our ability or inability to con- 
centrate our attention on any one thing that 
interests us. What does not interest us 
makes no impression on us and provokes no 
response. Reason is supposed to decide what 
is and is not worthy of attention. On closer 
investigation we find, however, that nothing 
really interests us which does not affect our 
own welfare in some way, for good or bad. 
And we find also that the office of stamping 
encountered phenomena as favorable or un- 
favorable, as "good" or "bad," does not rest 
in reason but with the master instincts. Rea- 
son speaks with authority only when it makes 
itself the mouthpiece of their urgings or 
warnings. It used to be held beyond all 
questioning true that our real self, our soul 
proper, was that in us which knows. Now 
philosophy, led by the new psychology, in- 


clines more and more toward a conviction 
that, if any faculty or function or part of us 
can be deemed particularly expressive of our 
self — of that which makes men of us and 
sets us apart from all the rest of the imi- 
verse — ^it is that in us which wills. Not 
inaptly has it been said that we are what we 
will — and we will what the instincts warn 
us to prefer among all offered possibilities. 
For this reason we find that while an end- 
less number of things interest us because of 
the whispered advice from those ever wake- 
ful watchers within, this profusion is sure 
to include certain exceptional phenomena 
forming a class by themselves and exercising 
an attraction not possessed by the rest of the 
throng. Everything else dwindles into in- 
significance beside their superior claim to at- 
tention, and nothing else has an equal power 
to raise our impulses to passionate willing. 
Here we have that central interest which the 
individual finds irresistible even under nor- 
mal conditions and which often assumes pro- 
portions of mania when conditions become 


abnormal. This preoccupation with certain 
interests to the exclusion of all others indi- 
cates which master passion is supreme within. 

Of the two preservative instincts, the Will 
to Be and the Will to Love, much need not 
be said here because they have long been 
known and are now comparatively well 
understood. Subservient to the former is 
everything in our life that makes for its own 
protection. It leads us to seek nourishment 
and shelter, to avoid danger, and to defend 
ourselves against enemies of every kind. But 
much less easily recognizable emotions and 
tendencies can be traced to it. Revenge, for 
instance, is a disguised safeguard of exist- 
ence, although in its composition other ele- 
ments may enter. How far the ramifications 
of the Will to Love reach, and how much in 
our relationship to other men may emanate 
from it, is not easy to tell, nor does that mat- 
ter concern us here. 

Even to-day it is common among scientists 
and philosophers to lead our entire being, 
with all its crudest and subtlest activities. 


back to the never-resting pressure of those 
two "elementary" or "primary" instincts, of 
which, for instance, J. Arthur Thomson 
says: "Hunger and love solve the world's 
problems." They are, of course, conditional 
to any other tendencies, and from this view- 
point seen, there is even a difference in im- 
portance between them, the Will to Be being 
presupposed in order that the Will to Love 
may have a chance to assert itself. By rea- 
son of their proximity to the very roots of 
being, they have been able to impress their 
passionate, warlike spirits lastingly on hu- 
man nature. Thanks to their influence, 
wielded without serious interference through 
mankind's childhood and youth, we are at 
this advanced age thinking largely in terms 
of fighting. It is particularly difficult for 
us to deal with functions related to self-pres- 
ervation and race-preservation except in 
ways reminding of the battles and the blood- 
shed that grew inevitably out of their exer- 
cise. And it is interesting to note that our 
conception of the dramatic quality is indis- 


solubly tied up with the idea of hostile 

But while the preservative instincts have 
long been honored as master motives of hu- 
man nature, to which all other impulses must 
yield precedence, it is only in comparatively 
recent ages, and with the growing assurance 
of personal and racial existence, that the per- 
fective forces have had a chance to reveal 
their true power and importance. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that they have re- 
mained overlooked, or else misunderstood, so 
far as their presence in the general scheme 
of life was recognized at all. That such 
should be the case seems the more natural 
because the Will to Do and the Will to Rule 
are much less strenuous and picturesque, 
both in aspect and object, than the funda- 
mental instincts. They are also, in compari- 
son with the latter, less indispensable; but 
on the other hand they must— in the light of 
modem knowledge — ^be counted higher, more 
spiritual, and nearer to the ultimate purposes 
of Ufe. 


Moved by them, man seeks to excel in- 
stead of to conquer. Under their influence 
system takes the place of confusion, emula- 
tion that of conflict. While they could make 
themselves felt only at rare moments and 
faintly, man was man's natural enemy wher- 
ever ties of blood had not established a bond 
or a truce. Combination occurred only under 
the pressure of common danger or extreme 
need, and then generally along lines pre- 
pared by the Will to Love. History tells 
us, however, in spite of all assertions to the 
contrary, that the line of human develop- 
ment runs steadily, even if slowly, from a 
stage in which dissension and war are nat- 
ural conditions to one in which universal 
peace and collaboration seem equally nat- 
ural. This progress is at once the cause and 
the result of the increasing prevalence of the 
perfective instincts. For not only are they 
productive of actions that call for no san- 
guinary strife, but such strife is rendered less 
necessary and more repulsive by the im- 
provements they work in man and in human 

•> ' 


institutions. Led by their generous prompt- 
ings, we seem to be gradually forging ahead 
toward a stage where all men will meet in 
love by reason of their common manhood 

The Will to Do and the Will to Rule are 
the main factors making for specialization 
and for organization. Apart or together, 
they produce at once individual innovations 
and the racial assimilation of these through 
imitation; and this notwithstanding the fact 
that one of their main characteristics is their 
identification with gratuitous and seemingly 
purposeless effort. Actual uselessness has 
no place in life's economy except as an ab- 
straction of the human mind, and it is 
quite in keeping with what we know of life's 
spirit that the usefulness which lies hidden 
in a remote distance shall prove the more real 
and lasting one in the end. Necessity — 
taking the term in the sense of an imperative 
demand for the satisfaction of inunediate 
needs — ^has long been held responsible for all 
those deviations from the beaten track which 


we class under the common head of inven- 
tions and which constitute at once the in- 
spiration and the mark of progress. In 
reality, however, necessity is conservative, 
niggardly, and lacking in imagination as 
well as in enterprise. It stands for a mini- 
mum of exertion and for existence on a low 
plane. Not imtil life has been secured and 
love has had its hour, not until need and 
desire are silenced, can man hear and heed 
those less loud but not less insistent voices 
that forbid him to rest satisfied with the 
bareness of brute being. 

To reach an adequate insight into the na- 
ture of these gentler and more generous 
forces, we must bear in mind not only life's 
discreet way of luring us on to her hidden 
ends by means of some near-lying and out- 
wardly insignificant incentive, but also that 
universal process of evolution which em- 
braces functions and instincts and ideas not 
less than organisms and races and worlds. 
The Will to Do and the Will to Rule have 
grown marvelously in scope and depth and 


meaning since that dawn when they were 
nursed oh scraps of leisure time and unspent 
energy left over after the preservative forces 
had taken their demands. They seemed then 
by-products of existence, devised, at the 
most, to prevent waste. But what began as 
a dumb hankering for diversion grew by de- 
grees into a resolve to comprehend all crea- 
tion ; and what started as play has blossomed 
into heaven-aspiring efforts at the recon- 
struction of the world to suit our own desire. 
Then as now this held true: whether our 
search for entertainment took the humblest 
or the highest form, under the spell of it we 
were always with equal certainty, although 
not always with equal effect, engaged in the 
threefold process of improvement involving 
our own selves, the race, and the principle 
of life itself. 

If we examine closely into the Will to Do, 
with which we are especially concerned here, 
several distinct moments will be found in- 
terfused in it: (1) a craving for occupa- 
tion, which is not only general, but which 


exists separately and inherently within every 
organ and faculty; (2) a positive incentive, 
taking the form of a strangely intense and 
gratifying sensation of increased vitality that 
goes with all expenditure of energy under 
normal conditions; (3) a negative incentive 
in the shape of a keen sense of discomfort 
following an accumulation of surplus en- 
ergy; (4) an attraction exercised by every 
difficulty as such, regardless of any exterior 
advantage that may accrue from its over- 
coming. The last-mentioned element is par- 
ticularly marked, probably because whatever 
is difficult constitutes in itself a challenge to 
our interest strong enough at times to com- 
mand our attention even to the exclusion of 
matters pertaining to the protection and con- 
tinuation of life. From the union of all the 
moments given above results a definite, and 
under certain conditions irresistible, ten- 
dency which primarily leads to self-expres- 
sion through functional exercise suited to 
the temperamental idiosyncrasies of the 

1 1 


We want first of all to raise our own being 
to its utmost potency of bodily and mental 
vigor, and to have the triimaphant sense of 
being alive in a higher, more complete, more 
satisfying manner; we want to increase this 
feeling still more by stamping ourselves on 
other things ; we want finally, and most of all 
perhaps, to escape ennui, boredom — a sensa- 
tion of emptiness, of death-in-life, now rec- 
ognized as not less acute and hardly less 
powerful than himger or any other physical 
suffering. The immediate result of our sur- 
render to this impulse might be called play- 
practice and play-production; the interme- 
diate result is the improvement of all the fac- 
ulties engaged ; the final result, from our own 
view-point, is original and creative activity 
by which we obtain a satisfaction perhaps 
not surpassed by any other experience and 
to which, in the end, must be traced all 
human progress. 

Exercise for the mere pleasure of exer- 
cising ; sports and pastimes of every descrip- 
tion ; games, whether physical or intellectual ; 


dancing and chess-playing — ^these are some 
of the palpable manifestations of the Will to 
Do. But pm'suits and proclivities of much 
higher order may be traced to it. The miser's 
greed and the collector's hobby have their 
origin in it. The student, the explorer, and 
the inventor are inspired by it. Our sense of 
beauty is based mainly on the pleasurable 
stimulation of vision and hearing, and the 
artist is moved by a craving to exercise hand 
and brain before he dreams of aspiring to- 
ward any ideals. To the play-practice of 
the intellectual faculties may be credited the 
achievements of the great thinkers of all 
ages. Wherever man is seeking new paths 
and new light, there this ubiquitous, never- 
resting impulse may be found at work. 
Wherever its promptings are disregarded or 
checked, there waits boredom and there lurks 

Our emotional faculties require exercise 
in the same way as do our muscles and our 
senses, our memory and our imagination. 
For the understanding of life, and of any- 

i« ] 


thing in which it is reflected, one cannot ac- 
centuate too strongly that the mere existence 
within us of a machinery for the production 
of a certain effect is in itself an impulse 
toward search for just that effect. And al- 
ways we see life in the background with some 
subtly disguised purpose to be filled through 
the materialization of that effect. We are 
looking for pity, horror, awe, and even fear, 
first because we have been made capable of 
exercising those emotions, and next because 
through their practice we are trained into 
avoiding what is harmful and seeking what 
is helpful to personal and racial existence 
and growth. Here we have the partial ex- 
planation of phenomena so imrelated in ap- 
pearance as the curiosity of a crowd at an 
accident and the patient attendance of an 
audience at a dramatic representation of suf- 
ferings and agonies from which every one 
would flee in panic, did they threaten to be- 
fall him personally. In such instances man 
is simply employing deputies for the double 
purpose of developing aversions and fears 


that warn him away from paths fraught with 
destruction, and of strengthening sympa- 
thetic emotions that bind him more inti- 
mately to the rest of his kindred. 

The emotions lead us by a natural transi- 
tion into the realm of the Will to Rule, 
where they hold high oflSces. The name of 
this instinct must seem somewhat deceptive, 
but our analysis of it has not yet gone far 
enough to provide a more adequate designa- 
tion. And its fundamental characteristic is 
undoubtedly a passion for power — ^but a 
power which presupposes combination and 
which has for its reverse that fear of isolation 
which makes even death seem welcome at 
times. In its widest aspect this impulse is a 
craving for the expansion of our own lives 
by their reflection in the lives of others. 
Where the other perfective tendency urges 
to self-expression independently of others, 
the Will to Rule makes us impress ourselves 
on others and thus to seek expression for the 
racial side of our being. It prompts to or- 
ganization. It tends to level rather than to 


distinguish, but it is a leveling upwards. It 
fills us with a desire both to excel and to con- 
form with what we deem excellent. No mat- 
ter how one-sided at the start, it makes in 
the end unfailingly for reciprocity. 

While partly responsible at least for van- 
ity and pretension, for arrogance and intol- 
erance, for narrow class egoism and jingo- 
ism, the Will to Rule breeds ultimately am- 
bition, loyalty, patriotism, and fellow-feeling 
for all hiunanity. Among those inspired by 
it are the moralist, the true statesman, and 
the martyr-pioneers of every great cause. 
And to imderstand how it wields its influ- 
ence and achieves its purpose, we must re- 
member that a reformer is first of all a man 
wanting to press his own ideas on his fellow- 
men — ^a man determined that other men shall 
do something to which they are not in them- 
selves inclined. And when such a man pre- 
vails, or when he goes down in the struggle 
for what he deems right, the glow that burns 
and blesses his soul is the same one that fills 
an artist in the moment of supreme creation. 


Of this force it may truly be said that it 
teaches us to obey in order that we may lead, 
and to lead in order that we may serve. For 
many reasons, but particularly because it 
cannot operate at all without numbers of 
men being concerned, it has in the past been 
more appreciated, though hardly less mis- 
understood, than the Will to Do, which it 
has helped to obscure. 

The evolution noticed in the dominant im- 
pulses themselves may be defined as a process 
of idealization, corresponding closely to that 
observed in all other forms of life. In the 
main, this development has led from the in- 
definite to the definite, from the simple to the 
complex, and from blind drifting to self- 
realizing foresightedness. Each time the 
horizon receded a little further, the truth be- 
came more evident, that the larger interest 
embraces the smaller one. Long ere this 
perception had passed from the subconscious 
to the conscious regions of our being, it had 
laid the basis for that seemingly paradoxical 
attitude which we term unselfish and disin- 


terested — an attitude which perhaps might 
be defined as the recognition by a narrower 
self of an integral connection with another 
self moving on a higher and wider plane. 
But it is not only the perfective forces that 
have displayed this irresistible tendency 
away from their primitive and selfish begin- 
nings. The law seems to be that every slight- 
est advance achieved by any one instinct 
must sooner or later produce a corresponding 
advance in all the others. 

Even the Will to Be has moved along with 
the rest and is now something entirely dif- 
ferent from what it once was. Starting as a 
mere will to feed, a passive, defensive, 
shrinking impulse seeking the safety of life 
in flight or seclusion, it became, as the ages 
passed on, a will to fight and responsible for 
a daring wholly different from that animal 
courage which is in reality nothing but igno- 
rance or desperation. The Will to Love, 
which was at first confined to sex-passion, . 
has become an intercourse of souls not less 
than of bodies, a passion to give rather than 


to take. Out of a mere will to play, which 
still survives among our children in almost 
original simplicity, has sprung that proudest 
and most ambitious of man's desires — ^the 
will to create. And what was once indeed a 
will to rule is steadily transforming itself 
into a wiU to lead in service. 

The mutual influence of the master in- 
stincts upon each other seems to have been 
exerted more frequently and more effectively 
through hostile contest than through peace- 
ful interaction. But whether combining or 
clashing, they have always been, and will 
always be, arrayed in pairs, the preservative 
forces joining hands against those making 
for perfection, or racial and personal in- 
stincts facing eacb other. Thus we discover 
no single combats, but instead battles of 
two against two, each instinct taking now 
this side, and now that, as the line of battle 
happens to be drawn. These struggles for 
equalization of rights rather than for com- 
plete supremacy have never resulted, nor 
will they ever result, in the undisputed sway 


of any one instinct or set of forces. In their 
character of first comers, and having the 
support of custom — which is probably the 
most conservative social factor known to 
us — the preservative instincts have done 
most of the domineering, while, with equal 
frequency, the Will to Do and the Will to 
Rule have acted the part of rebels to obtain 
a reasonable share in the control of that cen- 
tral motive which is life-determining for the 
individual as well as for the race. With the 
ascendance of one set of contestants or the 
other, the emphasis has been laid on indi- 
vidual difference or racial identity, on man's 
blind trust in whatever has become familiar 
or his eager search for variation. 

If we glance back through the ages in an 
endeavor to gather the results of these in- 
cessant see-sawings into a comprehensive 
perspective, our vision divulges an endless 
series of alternating static and kinetic 
periods. The latter are marked by outward 
immobility and inward activity, by a restless 
projection of ideas and ideals not yet em- 


bodied in external changes, and, as a rule, 
also by a pressure from the racial toward the 
personal side of man. The static periods, on 
the other hand, stand for readjustment and 
assimilation, for tangible application of the 
ideas and ideals emerging victoriously from 
the preceding kinetic period, and, finally, 
for a strong current toward the racial side 
of existence. Perhaps I may shed clearer 
light on their comparative significance by 
saying that the kinetic phases of the world- 
movement are primarily rhythmical, dealing 
with relations in time, while the static phases 
are chiefly harmonic and concerned with re- 
lations in space. 

Ideal existence requires that each life in- 
stinct fill its place and no more. Toward 
such a condition man is everlastingly striv- 
ing, only to meet everlasting disappoint- 
ment. To live is not "to have got there," 
but "to be getting there." The very neces- 
sity for adjustment is a sign and a condition 
of wholesome being. No sooner is equilib- 
rium approached than it must be upset in 


order that its reestablishment may be under- 
taken on a higher plane. Thus we cannot 
wonder that the disproportionate assertion 
of an instinct at the expense of another, or 
to the momentary exclusion of all the others, 
is a case of common occurrence, and yet one 
that invariably turns life aside from its well- 
worn grooves. These deviations from the 
normal — or rather from the commonplace — 
may convert a man into a maniac or a mar- 
tyr, a brute or a genius, but they are sure to 
set him apart from other men as one through 
whom the life spirit has spoken with a louder 
voice and a clearer accent in order that all 
mankind may Hsten and learn. Out of such 
individuals comes poetry — ^whether it be 
made by them or about them. 

The brief outline given here shows no 
feature of the relationship between the in- 
stincts or of their inner development to have 
greater importance from man's view-point 
than the incessant manifestation of two all- 
pervading tendencies: one making for a 
transfer of influence from the preservative 



to the perfective forces, and the other for a 
shifting of emphasis from the physical to the 
spiritual side of life. These parallel and 
closely allied movements from a lower to a 
higher level have been accompanied by a 
mutually modifying interaction between the 
dominant impulses within and all those nat- 
ural, racial, and social circumstances which 
we group under the term of envieonment. 
As man has altered and grown, so has every- 
thing connected with him — ^material sur- 
roundings, customs and habits, institutions 
and laws, ideas and ideals. 

Everywhere these changes have followed 
the same lines. Using terms of common ac- 
ceptance we may be said to have moved from 
lawless militarism to organized industrial- 
ism ; from combination based on force toward 
combination based on voluntary consent; 
from a society built on physical superiority, 
through one centred in superiority of posses- 
sion, toward one expressive of spiritual 
superiority; and lastly, from accepted and 
approved racial tyranny to individual self- 


assertion. The specific results of this gen- 
eral development which concern us here are : 
( 1 ) a decline in the practice and prestige of 
physical fighting; (2) a decrease in the in- 
tensity of individual conflicts; (3) a lessen- 
ing of the hazards of living ; ( 4 ) a great in- 
crease in the number of persons conmianding 
spare time and energy; (5) an increased ac- 
centuation of the personal side of life; (6) 
an advancement of woman toward intellec- 
tual and emotional equality with man. 

If we consider, not exceptional periods or 
places or people, but civilized mankind 
everywhere and in all ages, it may safely be 
asserted that until recently all but an insig- 
nificantly small number of men used to be 
completely engrossed with the support and 
protection of life. Fighting was the one 
manly, honorable, and profitable occupation. 
Relief from it was found only in love — an- 
other kind of war then — and in coarse ma- 
terial pleasures. The perfective forces could 
not assert themselves except in their most 
selfish and primitive forms, and even so 


merely when they helped to make m?.!! more 
fit for fighting and loving. The scant host 
of those who cherished and practiced self- 
expression in its higher forms did so in an 
apologetic manner, as if they were guilty of 
tastes unworthy of grown-up people. But 
as it was, life seemed full and good to most 
men, partly because an overwhelming ma- 
jority of those having a voice to make them- 
selves heard f oimd their time well filled with 
congenial pursuits, and partly because few 
had reached a sufficient spiritual develop- 
ment to render them sophisticated in their 

Among innovations brought by our own 
time perhaps the most striking have been 
law-guarded peace, machine-made prosper- 
ity, widespread education, and democratic 
ideas. To many they have meant less things 
to do with more time to do them in. The 
number of those not having to exert them- 
selves at all for a living has been swelled 
enormously. Physical fighting has gone out 
of fashion. The fight not only for but with 


money ^as proved void of fascination when 
not taldng the form _ of gambling. At the 
same time it has served still further to en- 
large the leisure classes. When the changed 
order first made itself felt, those whom it 
stripped of their former occupations rushed 
with renewed eagerness to love and material 
pleasures, seeking salvation where they had 
found diversion imder more primitive condi- 
tions. Once more, as under somewhat sim- 
ilar conditions in Athens, Rome, and France, 
the gratification of sexual desire became 
life's most absorbing concern to vast num- 
bers of men. 

This new attempt to subsist on life's 
sweets alone led more quickly and more in- 
evitably to nausea than any preceding one, 
for in the meantime man had learned much 
about the outer world and himself and his 
own possibilities which he did not know be- 
fore. Not only a few inspired individuals 
but large numbers of ordinary men had be- 
gun to think for themselves and to apply 
the thoughts of others, now made easily 


accessible. In the new light, and with new 
faculties clamoring to be used, the old pas- 
times and pursuits could only seem futile 
and puerile. Add also that woman had be- 
gun to develop a life of her own rendering 
her unwilling or unfit to remain man's mere 
toy or shadow. It was then boredom became 
epidemic and gave birth to modern pessi- 
mism — to that weltschmerz or pain of limng, 
which was wholly foreign to the ancients. 
It was then cynicism and skepticism grew 
fashionable. It was then that life and liter- 
ature alike became smitten with that deca- 
dence which sees in ennui not only something 
inevitable but a mark of intellectual superi- 
ority, and in the cultivation of make-believe 
passions the sole object of true art. 

But it was at this time, too, that the per- 
fective forces found their supreme oppor- 
tunity. Within the last century they have 
assumed an importance often equaling and 
sometimes surpassing those of the primary 
instincts. Not only through the artist, the 
student, or the reformer, but through thou- 


sands upon thousands of comparatively com- 
monplace human beings, have these forces, 
and especially the Will to Do, been heard to 
speak with the compelling voice of passion. 
More and more has man come to feel that the 
one object warranting any sacrifice — even 
of life itself — ^is the joy of being himself to 
the utmost potency by the full and free ex- 
ercise of every faculty within him. More 
and more has he come to believe that with- 
out this ultimate joy added, life is not worth 
living and love nothing but a quickly passing 

If with this new outlook upon life relief 
has not come, the chief cause lies in the fact 
that the outward expressions of man's life, 
such as customs and institutions and ideals, 
change more slowly than the individual, so 
that after a time they become obstacles to his 
further progress. Many a man seeking sin- 
cerely for the one remedy that could help 
him has perished for lack of courage or 
strength to break out of the imprisoning 
ruts. And it is above all with the unheeSed 


or misunderstood struggles of the perfective 
forces to find soul-satisfying outlets in spite 
of all dams reared by tradition and conven- 
tion that modem man is sick. 

To cure this sickness, and to reach once 
more something like reasonable harmony be- 
tween the outward forms of om- existence 
and the spirit speaking through them, it is 
necessary that we complete the change in our 
attitude toward all being which began with 
the appearance of an evolutionary world- 
conception. Once we were wont to seek life's 
purpose in some agency or existence of 
a supernatural order. From those early 
dreams we have been gradually weaning our 
reluctant minds, and proportionately we 
have come to accept life's purpose as lying 
within itself. At the same time, however, 
we have needlessly narrowed our view of that 
purpose by taking it to include nothing but 
the mere preservation of the vital principle. 
Yet the very idea of evolution seems insep- 
arable from that of endless growth. And 
until we recognize such growth into forms 


and forces of ever-increasing perfection as 
the higher and more essential part of life's 
purpose, we shall not have mastered the full 
truth of which evolutionary philosophy is 
the bearer. Only by the mastering of that 
truth and its application to all that we think 
or do can we gain the peace of soul that 
results from a willing surrender to life's in- 
nermost spirit. 



SINCE time immemorial the most deep- 
reaching distinction known to the hu- 
man mind has been that between spirit and 
matter. For more than two thousand years 
idealistic philosophy and materialistic science 
have vainly tried to reduce either one of those 
fundamental principles into a mere appear- 
ance — a delusive creation of our mind or our 
senses — ^by proving the other one exclusively 
possessed of valid reality. To-day, however, 
as on the first day when man thought of 
them, his mind perceives them at once jux- 
taposed and interwoven, inseparable and 
inconvertible. And though more and more 
inclined to hold them complementary aspects 
of some underlying oneness, which he names 
variously in accordance with habit and tem- 
perament, he is forced by accuracy as 
well as by expediency to accept them as 



parallel realities of equal validity, scope and 

The farther man recedes from his former 
dogmatism, the more clearly he perceives, on 
one hand, that all consciousness is merely a 
higher form of energy, while all energy fore- 
shadows the consciousness toward which it 
tends; on the other hand, that reasoning 
itself — the highest known form of conscious 
activity — includes both material and spiritual 
moments. It is dawning upon him, at last, 
that his soul no less than his body has been 
developed by evolutionary processes; that, 
as in everything else, so, too, in the gradual 
unfolding of new vital forms through the 
countless aeons, spirit and matter remain in- 
dissolubly interdependent. As the ancestral 
line of organic matter runs unbroken from 
the simplest unicellular creature up to man, 
so there nms a corresponding line of descent 
from the blind reflex-actions of the proto-cell 
to the seemingly superhuman imaginings of 
messianic genius. In the light of these new 
revelaiions man must now reconstruct all 


prevailing ideas as to the spiritual aspect of 
his own existence. 

Modem science has practically established 
the fact that no psychological phenomenon 
lacks its physiological counterpart. Our 
most fleeting thoughts and moods are now 
supposed to be accompanied or caused by 
physical changes of some sort. Naturally 
enough, therefore, it has been asserted and 
largely accepted as true, that every physio- 
logical activity must show a psychological 
counterpart. Even such automatic functions 
as circulation and digestion are now thought 
to be paralleled by veritable spiritual over- 
tones, which, however low they may rank on 
the conscious scale, nevertheless claim kin- 
ship to the higher mental processes. It fol- 
lows, then, that nothing in our life is purely 
material or spiritual. But it follows also that 
consciousness must mean many things in- 
stead of only one. No longer does the soul 
live an independent life in aristocratic se- 
clusion devoted entirely to "ratiocination." 
No longer does the old chasm yawn between 


our intellect and our senses, or between our 
"noble" sentiments and our "degrading" 
needs and desires. No longer may we stamp 
this function as material and that as spir- 
itual — one brutelike, to be ashamed of; the 
other "divine" and a source of pride and 
conceit. . 

In the light of our new knowledge we 
must contend that the energetic side of every 
vital expression, from the involuntary 
twitching of a muscle to the formulation of 
a philosophy or the willing to sacrifice life 
itself for an idea, is an integral part of a 
coherent mass of consciousness. This spir- 
itual equivalent of the physical body is at 
bottom homogeneous. It has its variations 
and gradations, but these are all tied to- 
gether in mutual relationship and depend- 
ency. It has its hierarchy of functions, but 
none of these may claim an origin wholly 
different from the rest or an existence apart 
from theirs. As our completed body pre- 
sents an epitome of all past /material devel- 
opment, so our soul comprises all the past 


not only of the human race but of all life. 
As those more or less advanced and com- 
plicated cell-specializations which we call 
organs connect us with this or that outlived 
evolutionary level, so the soul is a mosaic 
including fragments of every spiritual phase 
through which life has passed on its upward 
road. And as our individual growth from 
conception to maturity repeats the whole his- 
tory of organic form in a series of symbolical 
abbreviations, so the soul, in its growth, re- 
traces the full course of life's spiritual ad- 
vance from automatic reaction to rational 
willing. -n^ 

This general course of evolutionary prog- 
ress — life's highroad to perfection — ^leads in- 
variably from automatic unconsciousness 
through unreasoning consciousness to ra- 
tional consciousness of self and race. Three 
distinct levels of existence are here clearly 
indicated: the unconscious, the conscious, 
and the self-conscious. These stand at once 
for stages of transition through which all 
life has to pass in majestic, irreversible pro- 


cession, and for permanent states between 
which life in its entirety is at all times dis- 
tributed. They foreshadow all that is to 
come while reflecting all that has ever been. 
Within each one of them the other two lie 
hidden. Thus all life seems wrapped in one 
vast, multiform identity, reminding us of 
Emerson's words: "There is no fact in na- 
ture that does not carry the whole sense of 
nature." Every lower form, this means, 
bears within it the seeds of higher ones yet 
to be born ; and these, in their turn, not only 
paraphrase preceding models in their own 
construction and conditions, but actually 
continue to exist in part upon those lower 
levels which their essential portions have out- 
lived. The main cause of this involved ar- 
rangement seems to lie in that economy (or 
parsimony) of life which demands that a 
more refined instrument be never employed 
for a purpose that can be accomplished with 
equal or greater efficiency by a more primi- 
tive, and therefore cheaper, one. While ne\^ 
faculties and attributes are constantly fash- 


ioned to meet the new requirements of more 
advanced positions, we find always, side by 
side with these, the simpler agents of earlier 
date still at work within circmnscribed but 
nevertheless indispensable spheres. 

Even the blind attractions and repulsions 
of "lifeless" forms suggest not only the con- 
sciousness that is to come but also the two 
prototypal orders into which this higher 
force will forever be divided, according to 
the centripetal or centrifugal direction of its 
current. Beneath this division we discover 
the all-pervading opposition between those 
static and kinetic tendencies whose eternal 
conflict keeps the universe moving in orderly 
progress. Their interaction has its organic 
analogy in an alternating inflow of impres- 
sion and outgo of expression. Under these 
two heads all vital activities fall in the last 
analysis. But at bottom all incoming (affer- 
ent) currents of consciousness reduce them- 
selves to memory, or stored-up impression, 
while all outgoing (efferent) currents mani- 
fest choice or will. One of the two conscious 


orders, then, is eetentional, and the other 


In their embryonic stages, on the lowest 
level of life, will and memory are still 
merged in an indivisible automatic response 
to preferences that are at once inflexible and 
infallible. But every step they take away 
from that starting point brings with it a 
gain in freedom balanced by a proportionate 
loss of precision. Thus the second, or con- 
scious, level of existence is primarily charac- 
terized by its possibility of mistaken choice 
and its subsequent modification of choice 
through reference to previous mistakes. 
Moved by retained impressions of error, or 
choice-determining experience, life on this 
level develops three progressive degrees of 
conscious intensity, which from then onward 
remain coexistent in such manner that they 
supplement without superseding each other. 
We find them embodied in activities and 
qualities located, respectively, in the single 
cell or specialized cell-group (organ), in the 
sub-cerebral nervous system, and in the 



brain. Thus we arrive at certain lasting dis- 
tinctions that set apart, on one side, succes- 
sive groups of increasingly conscious organ- 
isms, and, on the other, groups of functions 
and faculties existing side by side in the 
highest of these organisms. 

Man, who is the one being known to have 
realized his identity apart from the rest of 
the universe, inherits from the preceding 
vital stage the distinctions just described; 
and through their specifically human mani- 
festations the three universal levels find their 
reflection within him. For man, to be man, 
must at all times and through all time divide 
his entire being between three life planes 
that mark at once inconvertible states of 
simultaneous existence and successive stages 
along the onward course he has to pursue 
individually and collectively. On these 
planes he must live in such fashion that some 
portions of his being belong exclusively to 
one or the other of them, while other portions 
pass back and forth, either in swift, irregular 
oscillation or in measured, definite progress. 


And although he can never wholly desert 
any one plane, or occupy one to the total 
exclusion of the others, he possesses a limited 
discretion as to how much of his time and 
energy shall be devoted to each of them. 
Whether he choose or fail to exercise this 
discretionary power, however, the emphasis 
of his existence — its central interest — ^must 
at any and every moment rest within one of 
the three planes, while the other two remain 
in relative subordination. In so far as we 
are able to note the frequency and intensity 
with which each plane receives this vital em- 
phasis, we are also able to determine the 
plane on which a man may truly be said 
to live. That plane furnishes the dominant 
motive of his life. Only on that plane is 
he fully himself. 

Whether we consider the life of an indi- 
vidual or of the whole race, and whether we 
consider such life at any one moment or con- 
tinuously through any length of time, we 
find its sum total of vital activity distributed 
between certain faculties and functions that 


range themselves into two distinct but 
mutually dependent series of conscious at- 
tributes. In its entirety, each such series is 
expressive of one of the two prototypal 
orders of incoming and outgoing conscious- 
ness. In the attributes, of which there are 
three in each series, corresponding life planes 
are made manifest. The relative position of 
each attribute is determined by its degree of 
conscious intensity and inclusiveness. Thus 
every man may be expected to possess three 
kinds of will and as many kinds of memory. 
The attributes in the retentional series are: 
SENSATION^ or localized impression; emo- 
tion^ or generalized impression leading to 
vital valuation; intellect^ or centralized 
impression leading to causal interpretation. 
Their volitional counterparts are: instinct^ 
or expression following directly upon im- 
pression; impulse, or expression preceded 
by vital valuation of local impressions; and 
wiLL^ or expression based on synthetic cor- 
relation of sensation, emotion and intellect. 
There are, then — to sum it all up — three 


universal levels of existence between which 
all known life is distributed. The first of 
these is ruled by unconscious energy, the sec- 
ond by conscious life, the third by self-con- 
scious spirit. Each level is subdivided along 
lines reflecting the universal distinctions. 
Thus we get three interdependent human 
life planes, representing at once simultane- 
ous states and successive stages. Each plane 
is characterized by a distinct degree of con- 
sciousness. Each such degree is embodied 
in a retentional attribute, which, in turn, de- 
termines a volitional counterpart. By ref- 
erence to the attributes in the former of these 
two series of conscious orders, we arrive at 
the following designations for the three ever- 
present and aU-embracing phases of normal 
human existence : ( 1 ) the sensuous plane ; 


I believe it to be a universal law that every 
form marking a vital advance begins as a 
negation of the form from which it sprang 


and develops through conflict with its par- 
ent. Each life plane may, indeed, be said 
to have started negatively and to have ac- 
quired positive qualities by slow degrees 
only. Thus every plane is still inhibitive in 
relation to its predecessor and stimulative 
in relation to its successor. As we pass from 
instinct through impulse to will, we notice 
that a progressive gain of inhibitive power 
is offset by a proportionate loss of stimula- 
tive intensity. Furthermore we observe, on 
one hand, a gradual substitution of enduring 
for explosive volition; and, on the other, an 
increasing projection of motives beyond the 
immediate moment and man's narrower, 
more material self. 

Perhaps nothing serves better to illustrate 
the direction in which life is constantly mov- 
ing than an excessive lowering of our stock 
of vital energy through sickness, fatigue or 
worry. The inevitable result is a sinking be- 
low our normal plane of existence. The 
tendency may be resisted, but will certainly 
make itself felt. And the unfailing signs of 


every such backsliding are morbid self-pity 
and shattered self-control. For every ad- 
vance achieved by man has meant, and must 
always mean, an added gain in self-control 
accompanied by a farther removal from his 
primitive self-centration. Thus humanity 
has been carried irresistibly, though never 
abruptly, from swift instinctive reactions to 
careful but often unavailing decisions ; from 
blind preoccupation with the palpable needs 
of the passing moment to world-embracing 
farsightedness; from egoistic seclusion to 
more and more complete identification with 
widening rings -of universal existence ; and, 
lastly, from conservative plodding along 
time-worn and largely chance-discovered 
ways to deliberate venture into untried paths 
suggested by an ever-deepening insight into 
the nature both of man himself and of the 
enclosing cosmos. 

On the lowest human plane life is prac- 
tically synonymous with action. Language 
itself began with verbs and not with nouns. 
Metaphorically speaking, sensuous man is 


forever "on the run" or lost in dreamless 
slumber. The meanly selfish needs of the 
moment furnish his main impetus. Of heart- 
yearnings or of confounding scruples he is 
utterly ignorant. For activities imperatively 
demanded by his environment and station of 
development he is conspicuously fitted, but 
if confronted with any task or problem not 
directly related to the preservation of indi- 
vidual existence, he becomes reduced to hulk- 
ing helplessness or inane rage. Acquisition 
and isolation are the keynotes of his whole 
being. He knows of no motive lying outside 
of himself: in fact, he sees nothing but his 
own self set against the indifferent back- 
ground of a few dim and fleeting glimpses 
of the surrounding world. Mentality he 
must be granted in a degree, or he would 
not be man, but it hardly carries him beyond 
alogical perception. Consequently he clings 
obstinately to the habitual rut that saves him 
from thinking. And what volition he* has 
implies little more than a blind proclivity to 


react along familiar lineS that were originally 
laid out for him by life itself. 

Through age-consuming processes of 
adaptation to new vital problems, emotion 
has gained a kinetic power surpassing at 
times even that of pure instinct. But every- 
thing we now call passion began nevertheless 
in the form of cautious protests uttered by 
the incipient collective selfishness of the 
organism against the still more fortuitous 
egoism of single cells or cell-groups. The 
subsequent expansion of the emotional ap- 
peal far beyond the limits of the individual 
must be traced back to the differentiation of 
sex and the resulting extension of self -feel- 
ing to include other organisms and objects. 
For this reason it is not to be wondered that 
sexual affection so frequently is mistaken 
for the sole typical manifestation of passion. 

What emotional man has gained in free- 
dom and scope of expression he has lost in 
directness and efficiency of movement. 
Prompted principally by desire, his volition 
is not a willing, in the full sense of the term. 


but an impassioned choice which, although 
not quite blind, yet leaps incessantly at un- 
reasoned conclusions as to good or bad. 
Through his growing perception of out- 
wardly spreading waves of effect, he has 
learned to look a little into the future and 
past the periphery of his own self for re- 
sults. And without being conscious of it, 
his attention turns inevitably to vital valua- 
tions in such manner that he is made aware 
of a vast enclosing world. Yet his attitude 
remains on the whole introspective, for he 
sees this world through his own self as 
through a colored glass. To all but a minor 
fraction of what lies without himself he feels 
opposed rather than related. And if his 
hostility exempt anything at all, it is merely 
because he has turned certain beings and 
objects into fictitious appurtenances of his 
personal existence. In such a secondary 
self -feeling all his supposedly unselfish ex- 
pressions have their origin. But through 
this very process of sympathetic incorpora- 
tion he becomes gradually capable of acting 


on motives overlapping the limits of his own 
identity. Thus he is lured unsuspectingly 
through what might be named "relational 
selfishness" to a still less self-centred out- 
look, embracing ever larger portions of 
racial existence and racial welfare. He 
thinks, but teleologically instead of logic- 
ally: to him truth is whatever serves as such 
for his personal ends or happens to meet 
the unforeseen emergencies of the moment. 
The intellect is still overwhelmingly in- 
hibitive and might indeed — could we observe 
it apart from all sensuous and emotional ele- 
ments — ^be deemed antithetical to action. 
Such is the case chiefly because its horizons 
have receded so miich farther both in time 
and space. But for this reason, too, the 
vacillation and futility clinging to existence 
on the highest life plane are more than offset 
by a clearness and penetration of vision that 
enables man to trace link after link of the 
magical chain of causation. The present be- 
comes thereby inseparably connected with 
all the past and all the future, and he is made 


to realize the community of interest that ties 
his closely circumscribed individual self to 
every other part of the universe, whether 
it be minute or immense, ephemeral or 

As a retarding factor, doubt takes the 
place of fear and sorrow with intellectual 
man; to move him, needs and desires must 
be translated into ideas. He is ever holding 
back in the hope of reaching a little nearer to 
the ultimate cause or utmost effect of each 
contemplated action, until he almost forgets 
that, after all, action alone is the final object 
of consciousness. And just because of this 
insistency to look far ahead rather than to 
the next step, he is the more likely to stum- 
ble. On the lower planes he had to stop at 
perception or valuation; now he goes on to 
comprehension and explanation, seeking to 
distinguish between truth and falsehood in 
ever- widening sense and measure. In every 
way his attitude is projective — ^just as emo- 
tional man is introspective and sensuous man 
retrospective — so that the whole wide world 


and all the interminable ages are laid open 
to his vision. His own self is seen and read 
through the medium of the outside world. 
Yet he finds to an increasing extent the im- 
mediate causes for action within rather than 
without himself. Simultaneously his mo- 
tives become more and more inclusive as he 
learns more thoroughly the lesson that he 
can have no true interest which is not, in the 
final analysis, common to all men and to all 
life. Slowly and steadily he is thus being 
led to that highest station, where, through 
the recognition of his own self as an inalien- 
able and yet in a sense autonomous part of a 
greater, all-inclusive self, he becomes the 
possessor of a true will. Such a will, repre- 
senting the summing up of the whole man 
into a single vital manifestation, must nec- 
essarily appear radical in its tendencies, 
because the mere exercise of it implies a pos- 
sible substitution of new untried ways for 
the accustomed ones sought by instinct and 
impulse — ways that are suggested by his 
imagination and approved by his reason in- 


stead of being handed down to him through 
inheritance or pressed on him by tradition. 
The evolutionary process which leads to 
the superposing of one plane above the other 
continues at work within each of them after 
the appearance of the next one. Life grows 
not only from plane to plane, but the level 
of each plane is constantly raised by the gen- 
eral advance. Every forward step affects 
established not less than incipient phases of 
existence and must sooner or later produce 
a readjustment along the entire line. Of all 
such retroactive effects none is probably 
more important than the incessant raising 
of formerly submerged portions of sensuous 
and emotional being into the full light of 
intellectual consciousness. Our recent dis- 
coveries of phenomena designated as subcon- 
scious or subliminal offer striking illustra- 
tions of this tendency on the part of man's 
insight to penetrate what lies beneath it as 
well as what lies beside and beyond it, to 
turn inward upon itself as well as outward 
upon the surrounding world. The very fac- 



ulties and functions typifying the life planes 
are thus subject to change and growth in 
accordance with directional tendencies pre- 
viously outlined. If we grasp this fact 
firmly, we will be saved the common error 
of believing that instinct is the same at all 
times and everywhere, that emotional im- 
pulses never can have more than one bear- 
ing, or that will is will under whatever 
circumstance it be encountered. Once more 
it is brought home to us that life becomes 
intelligible only in so far as we are always 
ready to find difference running through 
all identity and identity underlying all dif- 

The historical progress of man from plane 
to plane does not follow a straight line, but 
resembles rather the zigzag course of a tack- 
ing ship. The reason lies near at hand. 
Every onward pressure is the result of 
prolonged interaction, hostile or peaceful, 
between opposed but complementary princi- 
ples. As one or the other prevails in turn, 
the momentary direction inclines now to this 


side and now to that. Each tack represents 
an additional elimination of what is unes- 
sential and a further fusion of what is essen- 
tial in the two contending principles. At the 
same time the completion of each tack moves 
the centre of vital gravity a little further 
forward along the mean line of advance. 
But no matter how far we push on toward 
perfection, or how far our imagination takes 
us back along the route already traversed by 
mankind, in one respect the results of our 
observations must always be the same: 
around us we shall find life operating simul- 
taneously, although with varying emphasis, 
on all the three life planes ; and behind us we 
shall fitnd the life planes ranging themselves 
in chronological sequence, with the tide of 
life rising steadily from one to the other 
without ever leaving any one of them wholly 

Always, therefore, our advance is at once 
comparative and definite; always its succes- 
sive phases or periods are seen to overlap 
each other in such fashion that there is no 


telling just where one begins and the other 
ends; and always this advance is evidenced 
not only in man himself, but to no less extent 
in everything that springs from him or is in 
any way related to him. Thus we find his 
march from plane to plane unmistakably re- 
flected in all those external embodiments of 
his spirit that we call institutions and cus- 
toms, tastes and truths, sciences and arts, 
philosophies and religions. Viewed in this 
manner, history appears to us not as a me- 
chanical adding of link to link, but as a 
gradual simultaneous unfolding of number- 
less telescoped forms — that is, as a compli- 
cated, continuous process which renders the 
periodical rewriting of all history a neces- 
sity, while at the same time it makes it easily 
conceivable that Plato may have beheld life 
stretching backward from his own time in 
pretty much the same way as we see it with 
*■ — thousand more years added. 

' from this retrospective survey we turn 
consideration of the part played by the 


life planes in the individual existence of man 
as we see him to-day, we find them once more 
figuring in twofold fashion — in a time rela- 
tion and a space relation, as it were — so that 
they make themselves felt at once as a cer- 
tain order prevailing for the moment and as 
a series of changes already accomplished or 
still in progress. Psychically no less than 
physically every man has to rehearse the 
history of the race. At the moment of birth 
he can barely be called man, for the new- 
born child dwells exclusively on the lowest 
plane. Years have to pass before all the 
hidden seeds of emotional and intellectual 
being sprout into visible existence, and even 
when this point has been reached the centre 
of vital gravity remains for a long time near 
the bottom of the upward slope of life. Dur- 
ing that earliest period as well as afterwards, 
the growth varies so much in speed, and it 
follows such devious ways, that no two men 
are likely to stay abreast of each other 
throughout life. Nevertheless it is possible 
to reach certain averages enabling us to ap- 


proximate the length and character of the 
periods into which the completed lifetime of 
every normal man divides itself. We may, 
in a word, ascertain man's normal life 


These periods are four. Roughly speak- 
ing, they end respectively at twenty, forty- 
five, sixty-five, and death. We may refer to 
them as childhood, youth, manhood, and old 
age. Considering the type rather than the 
specimen, the three first stages coincide 
closely with the years spent by the individual 
on the sensuous, the emotional and the intel- 
lectual planes. The transitions from one 
period to another are as a rule marked by 
acute and significant crises, and these are 
particularly accentuated in the lives of 
greatly gifted men. With such men, too, 
these critical passages are apt to occur in 
closer proximity to the average ages given 
above. The reason for this comparative reg- 
ularity in the life-order of men commonly re- 
garded as natural "freaks" must be sought, 
I think, in the overlooked fact that true 



genius is, above all, supremely normal. The 
taint of diseased abnormality now too often 
attaching to it in public opinion may be re- 
ferred partly to a small number of sensa- 
tionally conspicuous exceptions, and partly 
to a confusion of the terms average and 
normal. The average man is supposed to 
be typical, and therefore normal. As a fact, 
he is neither. His very position at the mean 
of things is based on a failure to reach the 
utmost possibilities inherent in man during 
prevailing conditions — s, failure, in a word, 
to materialize the norm. On the other hand, 
it is just because that norm comes nearest to 
a perfect embodiment in men like Dante, 
Cervantes, Goethe, Balzac, Ibsen, Tolstoy, 
that the lives of such men are entitled to be 
regarded as normal: that is, as examples of 
what human life should be at its present best. 
As a child, man is frankly and unreserv- 
edly self-centred. His one business in life 
is then to add sufficiently to his own being 
in order that it may be brought up to full 
material and spiritual stature. Iii all his 


vital expressions he is instinctive, as he does 
not yet possess a will of his own — and this 
means that he is at bottom conservative, no 
matter how recklessly radical his actions may 
seem at times. When he pretends to a will, 
he may either be blindly obeying the mystic 
urgings of life or mirroring some other will 
that has appealed to his instincts as authori- 
tative. And when he appears flighty and 
eager for novelty, the explanation is likely 
to lie in his lack of settled habits and his keen 
susceptibility to every outside influence. We 
are accustomed to speak of childhood as the 
specific period of growth. So it is in a sense, 
but only in a very limited one. For the 
growth of that first phase of visible existence 
aims merely at bringing man up to the level 
already estabUshed for him by preceding 
generations, while the growth achieved by 
mature manhood implies an individual de- 
velopment beyond that level as well as a 
raising of the collective level. 

"During the emotional period, man's life 
principally determined by his preoccupa- 


tion with sex relations of every kind. In- 
stead of adding to his own organism, he is 
now experiencing the distinction between 
himself and all the rest of the universe, while 
at the same time he is studying the reflection 
of his own life in that of other beings. Thus 
he is led through the recognition of his own 
rights and bounds to a sympathetic realiza- 
tion of the rights and bounds of others. The 
central purpose of this phase might be de- 
scribed as association of related identities in 
common vital valuation — and out of such 
association springs all social organization. 
This period aims at stability rather than 
progress — for progress means a rising above 
the level already reached by the race. What- 
ever radicalism it may display comes not so 
much from a desire for change as from dis- 
satisfaction with a change already started. 
It is, in fact, more conservative than either 
the preceding or the succeeding period, and 
for two reasons: first, because it has devel- 
oped deeply rooted habits without having as 
yet acquired an outlook wide and wise 


enough to overcome the pressure of these 
habits; and, secondly, because its advance 
from personal to relational motives means, 
for a time and to some extent at least, an 
increase rather than a decrease of selfishness. 
The man who feels himself the centre and 
moving spirit of all that he owns and who 
regards everybody related to him as part of 
his property, has merely spread his egoism 
over a larger space. And we must remem- 
ber that the child is so self -engrossed that it 
does not even notice any opposition between 
its own self and the world, while the youth is 
constantly appalled and stirred into passion- 
ate expression by his sense of such opposi- 
tion. In many respects, however, this period 
seems to us better balanced than the other 
two — an appearance that may be explained 
by the fact that it represents the nearest 
average of the advance achieved by man 
so far. 

If himger and love were actually life's 
only incentives, as has so often been asserted, 
then human existence should come to its 


logical close at or about the age of forty- 
five. But so far from being done with life at 
that time, or life with him, man begins only 
then to live in the full sense of the term. In 
the fact that life runs on after having se- 
cured itself in the part as well as in the 
whole, and still more in the fact that it rims 
on with a different if not greater beauty — 
herein I find telling evidence that its highest 
and most essential purpose is indicated by 
the qualities and possibilities of mature man- 
hood. Coming as the golden time of final 
growth that brings the glow of ripeness upon 
the fruit, this phase of individual existence 
corresponds strikingly in its innermost na- 
ture, in its motives and moods, to that some- 
thing over-and-above, that generous heaping 
of the measure, which contradistinguishes 
the beautiful from the useful. 

The approach of this epoch of man's life 
is heralded by disturbances recalling those 
of adolescence and yet differing from these 
in important respects. The youth thrills 
with mysterious longings and urgings that 


make the limits of his being seem too narrow 
for his spirit. Mature man, having slaked 
his first eager thirst for living and loving, 
finds himself suddenly seized by strange 
doubts and fears and migivings. All that 
his being has been based on until then seems 
to cirumble under his feet. All that he has 
believed in, or thought part of his belief, is 
thrown under suspicion. His very faith in 
himself seems gone ; nowhere can he find firm 
foothold : and all at once life seems unlivable. 
This is the time of all others for conver- 
sions, for sudden spiritual illuminings, and 
for desperate wrestlings with the Life Spirit, 
that may end in utter destruction or in tri- 
umphant conquest of a richer and more 
glorious life. This mysterious passage 
through misery and gloom, either to final 
darkness or to divine life, figures conspicu- 
ously in the biography of almost every man 
of genius. 

When the dread moments of stress and 
storm have passed, a rare peace settles down 
upon the victorious soul, but heaven can be 


no farther removed from hell than this peace 
from indolence or uselessness. The cries for 
bread and love being stilled — partly because 
the cravings back of them have been grati- 
fied, and partly because man has learned 
t!^at he does not live fully on bread and love 
c»cn when his fill of them be vouchsafed — 
that time arrives at last to which Plato re- 
ferred when he said that it makes man "raise 
the eye of his soul to the universal light that 
illumines all things." The child and the 
lover, the soldier and the householder — these 
have existed and taken their departure : now 
the real man stands forth in all his human 
fullness as philosopher and poet, as states- 
man and prophet. To me the most soul-sat- 
isfying and sorrow-soothing of all conceiv- 
able thoughts lies in the possibility that 
human life may reach its crowning climax, 
its apex of usefulness and spiritual beauty, 
in an epoch that is generally — and above all 
in our own day — regarded as a desolate 
waste, stripped of everything supposed to 
make life worth living. Nor is this to me a 


mere possibility,. a dreamed ideal: no, indeed, 
I hold it a deeply true reality that may be 
experienced by any one who lives his life 

The coming of this period cannot be 
hastened. It cannot be lastingly attained 
until the preceding, conditioning periods 
have consumed their due shares of time and 
energy. For it is among the inexorable rules 
of life that no phase of existence duplicates 
another, or can be missed out of the total 
scheme if life is to be complete, or may en- 
croach upon another phase without serious 
consequence. Not wasteful elimination of 
a weaker by a stronger, but synthetic co- 
ordination of the best in everything and 
everybody, must be deemed the ulterior aim 
of life's innumerable conflicts. Only when 
the indispensable lessons in discipline and 
sympathy imparted by the two first periods 
have been thoroughly mastered can man pro- 
ceed to that final lesson in impersonal in- 
sight which lies waiting for him along the 


last stretch of his long upward climb. For 
he who has not lived and loved cannot lead. 
To think that this period naturally stands 
for nearsighted conservatism — ^as happens so 
often at present — is to hold life itself re- 
sponsible for individual failure to materialize 
all of mankind's potentialities. In our world 
of to-day we see only a small host of excep- 
tionally favored men grow in a normal way 
to normal spiritual stature. An overwhelm- 
ing majority never get beyond the emo- 
tional, or even the sensuous, period — ^if it be 
not in a few moments of intoxicated inspira- 
tion, during some crisis brought on by a 
great emergency or by extremes of joy or 
sorrow, and then merely to sink back again 
to their former low state as soon as the ef- 
fects of the crisis have vanished. Long be- 
fore forty-five ossification of the soul sets in 
as a rule. But from the evidence furnished 
by the little host of normal beings we may 
conclude that the period after forty-five is 
the one that makes true radicalism possible : 
a radicalism, that is, which rests on insight 


instead of ignorance; which asserts itself in 
spite of individual habits and collective cus- 
toms without losing sight of their importance 
as guarantees of orderly progress; and 
which, finally, recognizes the compelling 
need of innovation without ever craving nov- 
elty for its own sake. This is a radicalism 
of thought rather ithan of action. And not 
until he has acquired this capacity for care- 
fully weighed deviation from the beaten 
track of tradition and convention can man 
be said to have attained a state of true 

The crisis that usually inaugurates man's 
arrival at full maturity should be named the 
"grand climacteric." Instead, however, this 
term is popularly applied to a later upheaval 
that occurs some time between sixty and 
seventy and was laid by the Greeks at sixty- 
three. It betokens that the highwater mark 
of the spiritual flood has been reached, and 
that the waters of life are about to retrace 
the route along which they fose, passing 
once more, but in reversed order, the stations 


that marked their fftrmer progress. We 
have learned that later attributes and facul- 
ties are less firmly established and more 
quickly lost than those of earlier growth. In 
other words, when the decline of man begins, 
his latest acquisitions are the first ones to 
drop away from him. The period with which 
we are now dealing shows almost invariably 
a gradual retrogression — a sinking back, so 
to speak, to ideas and ideals, moods and pur- 
poses, that characterized the earlier stages 
of conscious life. It is hardly possible to 
read the biography of a great man without 
finding, toward the end of it, records of 
rather pitiful autumnal romances, of belated 
returns to conceptions and creeds long out- 
lived, or even of recantations like the regret 
inspired in the aging Racine by his own mas- 
terpieces. Too frequently this period has 
been represented as one of actual decay. It 
need not and should not be so, for age resur- 
veying the passions of youth and the in- 
stincts of childhood in the clearer light of 
manly experience can make many valuable 


and wonderful discoveries. And, as Scho- 
penhauer says, "it is only the old man who 
sees life whole and knows its natural 

To the man who has lived fully and truly, 
death itself can be neither a menace npr a 
disgrace: it is only the ignoble and prema- 
ture decline in anticipation of the inevitable 
that must be counted both a torture and an 
unnecessary acknowledgment of weakness. 
Though the eventide has to arrive, just as 
the morning had to come in its due time, need 
it be what so often we find it now: a denial 
of the best part of the life it terminates ? Of 
course, it is of small use to dream about the 
abolishment of physical death. More prob- 
able seems the prolongation of life far be- 
yond its present term, and this may, or may 
not, prove a boon. But what man certainly 
may strive for, and with no little hope of ful- 
fillment, is that the final crisis be postponed 
as long as possible, that life remain strong 
and sweet to the very last, and that his sun- 
set be beautiful as his simrise. 


In the relationship of the life planes to 
each other and to life as a whole, we have, 
then, a universal model on which is patterned 
not only the life history of man, as an indi- 
vidual and as a race, but of everything that 
has or may come within his cognition. As 
runs the course of man's life, so run also the 
life courses of all organic forms, phases and 
conditions; of social customs and institu- 
tions ; of spiritual forms and tendencies, and 
of individual beliefs and ideas. All have to 
pass through similar sequences of comple- 
mentary stages — stages that are marked in 
turn by processes of concentration, special- 
ization, and correlation. 

Besides the surrounding world of facts, 
man has also to deal with a secondary, but 
nevertheless supremely important, world of 
ideas — a world which man has created out 
OF and FOE himself. To the primary world, 
of which man himself is an integral part, it 
bears a relation analogous to that which the 
collective consciousness of the race bears to 


the consciousness of the individual forming 
part of it. 

In this derived world, too, the life planes 
make themselves felt, finding their most 
typical expressions in those conceptions of 
beauty, worth, and truth that are embodied 
in art, morals, and philosophy — ^that is, in 
sensuous, emotional, arjd intellectual inter- 
pretations of life. From their relative posi- 
tions in this hierarchy, it does not follow that 
art must forever remain exclusively sensu- 
ous, or that philosophy be doomed to deal 
with nothing but metaphysical abstractions. 
Here as elsewhere evolution tends to produce 
a synthesis — a correlation and coordination 
such as Ibsen must have had in mind when 
he expressed the belief that "poetry, phil- 
osophy, and religion will be welded together 
into a new category and a new vital force, 
concerning which the living generation can 
have no clear idea." 

Of all the facts hitherto made clear to us 
none stands out more conspicuously than the 


position of man's will at the apex of vital 
activity. To this supreme utterance all the 
rest of life leads up, so far as we are now 
able to judge. Just as sub-human existence 
seems to press onward from level to level 
only that man may appear at last, so man 
seems to climb from one life plane to another 
only for the purpose of becoming possessed 
of a will that ultimately represents the syn- 

does the will stand for the highest phase of 
man's active nature, but it is that aspect of 
his being through which he influences and 
modifies the surroimding world, just as his 
passive, or retentional, side registers the im- 
pressions and modifications wrought upon 
him by the influence of that world. Thus 
each human will may, in theory at least, be 
regarded as a focal point toward which all 
preceding existence converges, and from 
which all subsequent existence diverges. 

The moment we ask why this should be so, 
we pass beyond the limits of what is at pres- 


ent deemed knowable. Of course, we are 
aware that the Life Instincts — those four 
fundamental forces which I have tentatively 
named the Will to Be, the Will to Love, 
the Will to Do, and the Will to Rule, and 
which make, respectively, for self-preserva- 
tion and race-preservation, for self-perfec- 
tion and race-perfection — are woven into our 
will like strands into a rope; so firmly, in- 
deed, that sometimes it must seem as if those 
forces WERE our will. But in them we see, 
after all, merely the human equivalents of 
certain tendencies so imiversal in their pres- 
ence and application that we are compelled 
to accept them as voices uttering the will of 
life itself. 

Concerning the origin, nature and purpose 
of life in its entirety, we can never hope to 
obtain a definite knowledge like the one we 
have of our own inner processes. And all 
that we know of it so far relates to appear- 
ances only — ^to the results of life's restless 
activity. But out of what seems to be we 
shape tentative conclusions, or "working 


truths," as to what beally is: as to life. 
In the course of our multimillenary search 
for such truths we have thus accumulated 
evidence of a certain unity and determination 
of purpose that constantly recurs beneath 
the superficial aimlessness and haphazard- 
ness of all being — evidence that cannot be 
wholly disposed of by any amoimt of "whole- 
some skepticism." 

For the sake of expedience, if for no other 
reason, we seem constrained by this evidence 
to formulate an ultimate "working truth," a 
theory more audacious and sweeping than all 
the rest — though, perhaps, neither more fan- 
tastic nor more far-reaching than the imag- 
inary basing of existence on atoms, or on 
vortices formed by the ions of the ether. 
Alfred Fouillee, the French evolutionary 
philosopher, is only one of many modern 
thinkers who have declared that "a will 
moves through all nature." 

If we accept such a universal will — ten- 
tatively, that is, and not as an "absolute 
truth" — ^we must picture it as a primal, pro- 


tean force, pushing up from beneath rather 
than pulling at us from above; working at 
once IN and at all that has being, and mov- 
ing irresistibly toward its unknown goal 
WITH and THROUGH the creatures of its own 
inspiration. Its methods are experimental. 
To realize its own wants, it has to have them 
embodied in tangible form. Thus it reveals 
itself to us as a selective rather than directive 
principle, which has left the power of initia- 
tive, of experimental variation, to the crea- 
tures brought into being under its impetus. 
Its remotest purpose so far revealed to us 
seems to be growth as growth — ^perfection 
that merely serves as stepping-stone to still 
greater perfection. And the principal meas- 
ure of this perfection now known to us lies 
in capacity for effective adaptation to that 
process of interaction by which one vital 
agent or function is constantly pitched 
against another in such manner that they 
mutually check and urge each other on. The 
immediate result of this process we find in 
an endless series of individual differentia- 


tions and collective assimilations that insure 
equally against stagnation and destruction. 
Indirectly it has led to the gradual establish- 
ment of higher and higher centres of iden- 
tity, possessed of ever more intense and ever 
more inclusive forms of consciousness. 

To create such forms capable of embracing 
ever-widening circles of existence — ^here we 
encoimter another term of expression for 
that perfective motive which seems to rule 
all universal being lying beneath and behind 
our own focal position at the point where 
past and future meet. Is it then unreason- 
able to assume that this same motive will also 
determine the endless evolutionary develop- 
ment still awaiting its due embodiment? If 
not, then we are brought face to face with 
the inevitable conclusion that life's final goal, 
toward which, however unwittingly or 
erringly, it has always been and will always 
be aiming, must lie in some form of con- 
sciousness sufficiently intense and inclusive 
to contain the entirety of being within its 
processes of thought and feeling and will. 


Looking upon the ever-shifting flow of 
existence from this view-point, we behold at 
the start as the first causey not a God fore- 
seeing all that is to follow, but a groping, ^ 
chaotic force, an all-permeating and all- 
pushing vital principle — the "Will to Live" 
of Schopenhauer, the "Life Force" of Ber- 
nard Shaw, and the "Life Urge" of Henri 
Bergson. Turning our eyes into the future, 
toward the ultimate end of things, we sur- 
mise a Life Spirit still in the making — an 
all-knowing and all-dominant vital embodi- 
ment that has, at last, become clearly aware 
of its own methods and purposes. And uni- 
versal being, as it unfolds itself through all 
the SBons of restless growth, is then revealed 
to our rapt gaze as the unbroken, triumph- 
ant climb of that vague, primal force to the 
shining throne of godhood, of a divinity 
based on the all-embracing power of its con- 
sciousness. And our own will — fumbling 
and oft-thwarted though it be — is seen as an 
indispensable instrument shaped by life 
for the upbuilding of the great world- 


WILL toward which universal being is ever 

Only by the assumption — provisional or 
f.i unconditional, as we happen to be more 
prompted by reason or by feeling — of some 
such unifying vital thread, of some all-per- 
vading Life Urge making for the merging 
of numberless scattered points of conscious- 
ness into a single all-compelling Life Spirit, 
can we reach a rational and "workable" in- 
terpretation of life in its most mysterious and 
most essential aspects. 

AN evolutionist's CREED 

I believe that all being is the manifestation 
of a universal, unifying force that we call 

I believe that life constantly seeks its own 
perfection through evolutionary processes 
that embrace every form of being. 

I believe that the place of each form in the 
progress of life may be measured by the 
clearness and scope of its consciousness. 


I believe that the highest known instrument 
fashioned by life for its own service is the 
human will. 

I believe that, while all other creatures are 
blind tools, man alone is a conscious serv- 
ant, to whom life has delegated some of 
its own freedom and responsibility. 

I believe that, in the end, man must reach a 
state of consciousness so intense and so 
inclusive that it will carry his existence 
beyond its present boundaries in time and 

I believe that this comparative immortality 
must be earned, and that it can be earned 
only through the closer and closer adapta- 
tion of man's will to the service of life. 

I believe that life starts bUndly, that it pro- 
ceeds experimentally, and that it tends, 
always and everywhere, toward the final 
upbuilding of an all-embracing and all- 
compelling world-wUl. 

T bplipvp. in a word, that godhood is the pur- 
the cause, of all being, and that 
ghest mission is to work con- 
'or the fulfillment of this purpose. 





WILLIAM JAMES was an unusually 
charming and lovable personality; 
a friend as few; a student without bias or 
fear; a bom teacher; an artist possessed of 
a rare power to move and inspire. He was 
the modem American thinker whose name 
appears with greatest frequency in Euro- 
pean works of learning. But he was some- 
thing much more; a prophet in the highest 
sense — one of those epoch-making men in 
whom the advanced ideals of vast social 
groups and whole periods become articulate. 
The intellectual brilliancy which enabled him 
to see a little more deeply and to think a 
little more clearly than the rest of his gen- 
eration would not suffice to explain his posi- 



tion as one who, according to G. K. Chester- 
ton, was "really a turning point in the history 
of our own time." For such an explanation 
we must bear in mind the presence within 
him, from first to last, of a living fire, a 
passionate attachment to real life, that made 
him a natural leader in — to quote his own 
words — "the long, long campaign for truth 
and fair dealing, which must go on in all the 
countries until the end of time." 

Like most men, he had his sorrows and his 
joys, his rewards and his regrets. But, 
taking it all in all, his life would have been 
called uneventful by most men. There was 
an excursion into art during early youth; a 
tropical expedition under the great Agassiz 
somewhat later; and, throughout the entire 
initial period, the stirring influence of his 
father, the elder Henry James. 

But the greater part of his life was almost 
wholly given up to quiet, patient, unostenta- 
tious study, leading him by degrees from 
chemistry through biology, medicine, physi- 
ology, and psychology to philosophy. And 


for more than forty yeaf s his life was largely 
confined within the sheltered precincts of old 
Harvard — as student, instructor, assistant 
professor, and professor of psychology and 
philosophy. But, as the course of his life 
began to slope downward, while his spirit 
kept soaring to higher and higher altitudes, 
there came at last calls from the outer world, 
showing that men in many lands had caught 
his voice and felt its message. 

His delivery of the Gifford Lectures on 
Natural Religion at Edinburgh was pro- 
noimced one of the intellectual events of our 
time. Degrees and other honors poured in 
upon him — and with them came much ill-will 
and envy that showed even more patently 
how he was winning his way to enduring 
fame. There was, too, the great success of 
iiis books— strange and unexpected from the 
view-point of the worldly wise — and, lastly, 
the growing reverential silence among the 
mass of men whenever his voice was raised 
for their benefit. Who that gave heed can 
forget the way in which his lecture on "The 


Energies of Men" spread like wildfire from 
coast to coast — the news of its worth passing 
from hand to hand ; its message filling heart 
after heart with new courage and confidence? 

Through it all his life retained its dom- 
inant tenor of watchful calm and quiet ap- 
plication. It seems almost paradoxical to 
say, and yet it must be put down as the 
truth: this man, whose sick heart early 
warned him of the end in sight, whose nerves 
at times seemed like wind-beaten strings, 
whose every glance and gesture was marked 
by the simple fervor of the child, and whose 
mental flexibility constantly reminded one of 
quicksilver — of this man it can and must be 
said that, at bottom, no quality characterized 
him more than a wonderful serenity of spirit, 
a beautiful soul-calm, that never let his 
innermost self be robbed of its supreme 

I think it was this calm, and the unshak- 
able faith in the final rightness of life under- 
lying it, that lent to his eyes their unique 
quality. The first time I talked intimately 


with him I could hardly think of anything 
but those eyes — now penetrating as 
sharpened steel, now blazing with glorious 
enthusiasm, now dim with sympathetic 
understanding, but mostly sweet and smil- 
ing and friendly as blue, sunlit lakes. In 
those eyes both the beauty and the strength 
of his soul were made manifest — ^both its 
utter humility and its divine assurance. 

For like most men truly wise he possessed 
a personal modesty bordering at times on 
shyness. When I asked him once for per- 
mission to call in order to get some advice, 
he assented readily but with the addition of 
these words: "It makes me blush to hear 
that you expect any help from such a poor 
critter as I am." And when an American 
periodical printed an article in which I had 
tried to suggest his place in modem thought, 
the reading of it drew from him this humor- 
ous protest: 

"I think the best thing for me to do now 
would be to shuffle off this mortal coil myself 
and leave a will instituting copies of your 


article to be cast in bronze and erected in the 
principal cities of the United States. I wish 
I could believe you ; meanwhile it is a beauti- 
f ul fable in which persons at a distance may 

There was neither superficial self -depreca- 
tion nor hypocritical self -acclaim in those 
words. They were as genuine as they were 
characteristic of his spirit. And they meant 
simply that he regarded himself as a mere 
instrument for the discovery and utterance 
of truths reaching far beyond and above the 
inevitable foibles and faults of the individ- 
ual. It was this spirit that made him keep 
his private life so completely out of view 
that, at the time of his death, not one of the 
many newspapers I scanned could mention 
the maidt^n name of his wife, while only one 
knew that his family included a daughter 
and three sons. But it was also that same 
spirit which enabled him, a man in the full- 
ness of years and fame, to accord the name 
of master to a younger man and student, 

_ J 


Henri Bergson, as he did so freely and 
frankly toward the end of his life. 

It seems peculiariy in keeping with this 
side of the man that his deliverance, in the 
classroom and on the lecture platform, 
should be — as one writer diplomatically de- 
scribed it — "unmarked by the ease which his 
literary brilliancy might have led his audi- 
ence to expect." Rarely was a man more 
himself in speech and writing. For this rea- 
son, if for no other, oratory and polished 
fluency would have seemed as strange on his 
lips as peacock feathers on a hermit thrush. 
And if we analyze his style, we discover soon 
that, in spite of its world-wide and well-de- 
served fame, it was no more marked by mere 
formal elegance than his spoken word. 
What made it a white flame burning its way 
irresistibly into men's minds was not its pre- 
meditated perfection, but its complete un- 
affectedness. Thus it gave free and apt 
expression to his ever-present sincerity, his 
passion for bridging the chasm between soul 
and soul, and his power of imaging in clear- 


cut outlines whatever his mind had made its 

And the qualities that made his style went 
far to explain his remarkable success as 
teacher. Once, while paying a tribute to 
French lucidity and simplicity of utterance, 
he said that they could be obtained only 
through "a complete mastery of the sub- 
ject." That was one part of his own 
strength. He never spoke or wrote of any- 
thing that had not been searched through 
and through by a mind at once pertinacious 
and imaginative. And for this very reason, 
perhaps, he never hesitated to admit dpubt or 
ignorance, whether these pertained only to 
himself or were the lot of the race as a whole. 

There was a more deep-lying factor, how- 
ever, that went still farther in explaining 
the secret of the magnetism he exerted. It 
lay, I think, in his willingness and ability to 
place himself in sympathetic touch with the 
personality of every one he met. His psychic 
sensibility was as remarkable as his freedom 
from concern for his own superiority was 


complete. Thus he met all people on their 
own ground without ever lowering himself — 
and perhaps there is no other trait that so 
wins and holds most human beings as thia 
precious faculty of making them feel at 
home and on an equal footing in an at- 
mosphere more refined than their own. 

It is when we recall how his influence with 
the thinking few was not less than with the 
feeling many that we must take into full ac- 
count faculties and gifts that I maV have 
seemed to be slighting so far. He was emi- 
nently what Tarde has termed an "inventor" 
— a leader on unbroken paths, a formulator 
of more close-fitting truths. Thus he was 
one of the first who not only suggested the 
inseparable connection between mental and 
physical phenomena, but who actually dem- 
onstrated and applied it. He was the first 
to contend that what figures in our con- 
sciousness as emotion may be the result 
rather tjian the cause of the physical phe- 
nomena accompanying it: that, in a word, 
we may be feeling fear because we are trem- 


bling when we think that our trembling is 
caused by the fear aroused in us. He was 
one of the first to act scientifically on the 
now commonplace fact that our "conscious- 
ness" is made up of much more than thought, 
and that will rather than reason stands for 
the highest and most comprehensive mani- 
festation of the human self. And he was 
one of the very first to delve into the "sub- 
conscious" and to return from its confusing 
depths with discoveries that have radically 
altered and vastly enriched our entire con- 
ception of the hmnan soul. In this connec- 
tion it may be well to mention that his little 
den at Harvard in the '80's was the first 
psychological laboratory in this country and 
one of the first places in the world where the 
movements and tendencies of man's mind 
were made the object-matter of an independ- 
ent science. 

His chiefest characteristic as a thinker, 
however, was a comprehensiveness, a cath- 
olicity, an all-inclusiveness, that had its 
foundation not in any pedantic piling of fact 


on fact, but in an intuitive penetration into 
the perennial many-sidedness of all being. 
Thus the man who was first among acknowl- 
edged scientists to find something of value 
in the gropings and rantings of the early 
"new-thoughters," was also able to speak 
understandingly of "how at the mercy of 
bodily happenings our spirit is" ; and he who 
could fling into the face of rationalistic phil- 
osophy the assertion that "our moods and 
resolutions are more determined by the con- 
dition of our circulation than by our logical 
grounds," was the same one who had the wit 
and courage to define metaphysics as "an 
unusually obstinate attempt to think clearly 
and consistently." 

All in all, he appears to us a typical em- 
bodiment of that modem scientific spirit 
which bases its labors on a kinetic and 
relative rather than static and absolute 
world-conception, and which draws its main 
inspiration from a firm faith in the progres- 
sive tendency of the evolutionary processes. 
But the eternal flux of things was no more 


vividly felt by his mind than the conviction 
that this flow is logical and orderly, full of 
meaning and beauty, and leading irresistibly 
from worse to better. It was this view of life 
that enabled him to combine the "wholesome 
skepticism" of the thinker with that whole- 
hearted enthusiasm of the reformer which 
prompted him to exclaim while championing 
an unpopular cause: "The Lord of life is 
with us, and we cannot permanently fail." 
For the author of "The Will to Believe" and 
"Varieties of Religious Experience" was one 
of the rare few who had fully realized, both 
that doubt and faith are equally essential to 
life, and that doubt is as fatal to right acting 
as faith to right thinking. 

Few things illustrate his spirit better than 
the answer he gave when asked why he had 
spent more or less of twenty-five years in 
the despised field of psychical research, only 
to confess in the end that he was "theoret- 
ically no 'further' than in the beginning." 
His reply was: "To find balm for men's 
souls." He perceived truth-seeking as the 


noblest task in which man might engage, but 
he felt also — ^and no less compellingly — that 
truth itself proves an empty nut unless it 
bears within it some palpable or probable 
contribution to human welfare. He wanted 
the truth concerning all "psychic" phenom- 
ena, if such truth were to be had. But he did 
not want it merely to flaunt it like a trophy 
brought home from the hunt. In this case 
as in all others, his heart spoke as plainly as 
his head. And it was his heart that filled him 
with a hot desire to temper that tormenting 
pain with which the normal hmnan self has 
always contemplated the surrender of its 
own identity to the eternal flow of time and 
space. He had suffered that pain himself, 
and he was not ashamed to admit it. 

It was natural that such a man should be- 
come a pioneer among those advocates of a 
new "humanism" who have striven for dec- 
ades now to make man once more "the 
measure of all things." In his "Defense of 
Pragmatism" he complained that, "for 150 
years the progress of science has seemed to 


mean the enlargement of the material uni- 
verse and the diminution of man's impor- 
tance." And in the same place he told of a 
young man "who had always taken for 
granted that when you entered a philosophic 
classroom you had to open relations with a 
universe entirely distinct from the one you 
left behind you in the street." 

The movement away from this attitude of 
acadeniic exclusiveness and aloofness — a 
movement which James himself not long ago 
described as "a reaction against the abstract, 
and in favor of the concrete, point of view 
in philosophy"— is not confined to philoso- 
phy alone. It embraces science, art, ethics, 
religion as well. It is decidedly "in the air." 
And the issue it involves, wherever it makes 
itself felt, is whether any form of organized 
human activity — spiritual or material, edu- 
cational or political — ^shall be accepted as a 
purpose in itself, or whether it shall be 
deemed and treated as merely a means to a 
still higher purpose, namely, that of human 
happiness. The answer to that question 


James gave for himself when he declared 
that ''in this real world of sweat and dirt, 
it seems to me that when a view of things is 
'noble' (in the bad sense of being inapt for 
humble service), that ought to count as a 
presumption against its truth." 

No phase of this world-embracing move- 
ment has been more violently attacked than 
the form of it to which James gave the name 
of "pragmatism." And the commonest as 
well as meanest manner of attack has been 
to present his standpoint as one of skeptical, 
not to say cynical, indifference. He said 
himself once that his "idealistic" critics had 
held the message of pragmatism to be that 
"any old opinion that pleases any one will 
do instead of real truth." Such an assertion 
is a clear falsification of the position as- 
sumed by James when he announced that 
"there can be no difference anywhere that 
doesn't make a difference elsewhere." 

By his establishment of a pragmatic test 
for truth, he ventured simply to reaffirm the 
"moral" and "social" aspects of activities 


long held self-sufficient and all but unrelated 
to the main currents of life. He dared to 
insist that emotional and moral judgments 
on "good" and "bad" are more fundamental 
and more far-reaching than our reasoned 
conclusions as to what is "true" and "false." 
He recognized that, as a human motive, a 
belief is much more impelling than an opm- 
ion. And by his patient search of our in- 
stinctive and subconscious existence, he was 
enabled to prove that even the most abstract 
and "impersonal" of our mental pursuits are 
more or less swayed by racial inheritance and 
social suggestion. "What the whole com- 
mimity comes to believe in grasps the indi- 
vidual as in a vise," he wrote not long ago. 
The moral judgments of the race cannot 
be solely based on what Lester F. Ward 
once named "intellectual gymnastics." 
While we must strive to make our thoughts 
increasingly independent of emotional preju- 
dices, we must strive thus only in order that 
our thoughts may serve us the better: that 
they may advise us the more effectively in 


our weighing of good and bad — ^not that 
they may become ends in themselves and 
our masters. 

The recognition of this relationship be- 
tween our reason and our entire "selves" is 
the very kernel and keynote of the prag- 
matic gospel preached by James. For this 
gospel is, indeed, one of practicality , imply- 
ing the correlation and subordination of 
every separate faculty and function — ^wheth- 
er individual or racial — ^to the larger and 
deeper and "truer" aspects of life as a whole. 
What he urged us to do was not to falsify 
our reasoning process for the purpose of 
making the results "moral," but to quit 
wasting energy and befogging real issues by 
mere hairsplitting. 

None was keener than he to have us con- 
duct our thinking with the scrupulous ex- 
actitude of a bacteriologist trying to raise a 
"pure culture" of germs. What he protested 
and warned against was the too common in- 
clination to judge the products of our think- 
ing by the amount of time and energy spent 


on its performance. He saw that no vital 
expenditure may be held valid miless it leads 
sooner or later to action, and that, for this 
reason, it is better to act on belief than not 
to act at all. "If there be any life that it is 
really better we should lead," he wrote, "and 
if there be any idea which, if believed in, 
would help us to lead that life, then it would 
be better for us to believe in that idea." And 
the farther he progressed along the path that 
was particularly his own, the more insistently 
he maintained — as in his last volume but one, 
"A Pluralistic Universe" — ^that our beliefs 
must matter, and do matter, not only because 
of their influence on our own lives, but be- 
cause through them we help to reshape all 
life. This was, in part, what he had in mind 
when he called truth a "resultant" and said 
that we help to make truth as we go along. 
But few men were more anxious than he to 
distinguish clearly between belief and knowl- 
edge, both in himself and in others. 

What he tried to do, in a word, was to 
bring philosophy back to the service of life 


through the wrestling with genuine vital 
problems. And though he wrought fruitfully 
in many fields, he never did better for man- 
kind, I think, than when he placed himself 
in the front rank of that steadily growing 
host of thinkers and workers who have 
learned from their own unwarped and un- 
stunted hearts that light without heat will 
satisfy even the loftiest of human souls only 
for a limited length of time. It was then, 
in particular, that he became one of the prin- 
cipal builders of the ideals out of whose ma- 
terialization will spring the greater and finer 
America still to come. 



T(0 the practical man, it seems a far cry 
— fronTpIiilosophy to life, or vice versa. 
Nor is he without gromids for his indifferent 
attitude toward abstract speculation. For 
like art, philosophy has claimed a right to 
exist "for its own sake," and this right it has 
exercised so freely that too often, in the past, 
it has been what William James once called 
it: "a mere reiteration of what dusty-minded 
professors have written about what other 
previous professors have thought." 

But here as elsewhere there has been a 
change. The dust is clearing from the minds 
of the professors. Philosophy is once more 
seen as a handmaid of life. And this restora- 
tion of an all but severed connection between 
the world of facts and the world of thought 
has, in turn, brought our practical man to 



see that he himself has, and needs, a sort of 
philosophy of his own : some kind of plan or 
scheme in the back of his head, according to 
which he imagines the world to be run, and 
on which, consciously or unconsciously, he 
bases his daily conduct. 

Foremost of those who have helped to pro- 
duce this new understanding of philosophy 
as, essentially, a bam for action^ must be 
mentioned the late William James. But 
speaking at Manchester College, Oxford, 
not long before his death, this "unchal- 
lenged veteran leader of American psychol- 
ogy and philosophy" said: "Without the 
confidence which being able to lean on Berg- 
son's authority gives me, I should never have 
ventured to urge these particular views of 
mine upon this ultra-critical audience." 

The word of any one man, even though 
he be a James, does not make or maintain a 
world-reputation. But the same enthusiasm 
for the greatest living French thinker has 
been evinced by other men, hardly less capa- 
ble of giving judgment. To-day the sworn 


adherents of what is already beginning to 
call itself Bergsonism are legion, spread all 
over the civilized world, attracting new re- 
cruits daily, and taking their strength from 
the very flower of intelligent, progressive 
manhood. The youth of his own country 
have arrayed themselves under the leadership 
of Bergson with such fervency that those in 
power have come to fear a general desertion 
from all the accepted ideals and idols of orth- 
odox, materialistic science. At Jena and 
Oxford, at Rome and Stockholm, the pro- 
fessors no less than the students are touched 
by the same sense of a new dispensation. 
Such diverging, if not actually opposed, 
movements as Anarchistic Syndicalism and 
Catholic Modernism proclaim in this quiet, 
keen-eyed Parisian professor their chosen 
and inspired prophet. Here in America, 
three of his principal works have been 
brought out at once by two different publish- 
ers. Such a figure, with all the marks of 
leadership upon him, must surely fall within 
the class indicated by Bernard Shaw when 


he wrote that, "the most pitiful sort of igno- 
rance is ignorance of the few great men who 
are men of our own time." 

Henri Bergson is still a young man, born 
in 1859 at Paris. In him the cosmopolitan 
character of modern thought finds a striking 
symbol, for while we know him to be of Jew- 
ish origin, sprung from a family that prob- 
ably lived in Poland once, his parents came 
to France from Ireland. And though it is 
dangerous to ascribe an exaggerated impor- 
tance to the influence of "time and race and 
place," one cannot help detecting in hun 
traces both of Celtic mysticism and of Jewish 
love for clear-cut dialectic distinctions. He 
himself has risen above race and creed and 
nationality toward that universalism of spirit 
which seems to be the common goal of all 
civilized mankind nowadays. 

He was educated in the public schools of 
France, obtaining his naturalization as a 
French citizen only after he had entered 
them. At first mathematics cast a spell on 
him, and while still a boy of eighteen he won 


a prize by an essay deemed good enough for 
publication in a prominent mathematical 
journal. Through the reading of Herbert 
Spencer he was drawn from that first love 
and moved to enter the Ecole Normale^ but 
even after he had become a student of phil- 
osophy he had no thought of giving his life 
to it. Only when he tried to lay down the 
essential principles of mechanics and found 
that time was not allowed to play any part 
at all in this science, did his comimon sense 
revolt, causing him to turn his attention to 
the problem of consciousness itself. And to- 
day his entire philosophical system stands 
based on time, or duration, as the chief reality 
known and knowable to man. 

Graduating in 1881, he taught in various 
high schools and colleges until, in 1900, he 
was given the chair of modem philosophy in 
the ancient College de France, a Parisian 
university dating back to the sixteenth cen- 
tury. In 1889 he won his doctor's degree 
by a thesis that did much toward the found- 
ing of his reputation as a highly original and 


daring thinker. And in 1901 he was elected 
to the Institute as a member of the Academy 
of Moral and Political Sciences. Such are 
the few landmarks of a career which James 
described as "commonplace to the utmost, so 
far as outward facts go." Professor Berg- 
son's adventures have all taken place in the 
realm of thought, but there his vivid imagina- 
tion and his utter fearlessness of conse- 
quences have led him on to one startling 
encounter after another. 

He is not a prolific writer, being niainly 
eager to make each work an adequate ex- 
pression of the conclusions prompting it. 
Thus, for instance, one of his briefest works 
had been twenty years in preparation before 
at last it appeared in print. So far he has 
published only four volumes outside of his 
doctor's thesis, together with a score of arti- 
cles and essays. The books of his that have 
just been brought out here in English trans- 
lation are: Time and Free Will (Macmil- 
lan) ; Matter and Memory (Macmillan) ; 
Creative Evolution (Holt & Company), 


The last mentioned is his main work, em- 
bodying all the ideas that tend to set his 
philosophy apart from the systems it threat- 
ens to supersede. In their original versions, 
all his books, including the one not yet trans- 
lated, LaughteVj have reached six or more 
editions. And one or the other of them has 
already been translated into almost every 
civilized language. But to get a full under- 
standing of his influence, within his own 
country and beyond it, we must always bear 
in mind that, as one of his German admirers 
has expressed it, "he is a personality, not 
merely the head of a school.'' 

The magnetic quality that emanates both 
from his person and from his writings, mak- 
ing "old-fashioned professors, whom his ideas 
quite fail to satisfy, nevertheless speak of his 
talent almost with bated breath," stands in 
intimate relation to the fundamental concep- 
tions of his philosophy. And it seems quite 
natural that a man who has turned from the 
intellect to intuition for a solution of life's 
riddles should have a style as flexible and 


as picturesque as that of any poet. In fact, 
Bergson is a poet, no less than a thinker, and 
to find proof of it one might turn at random 
to any one of his pages. 

Thus only a poet could describe the past 
as "pressing against the portals of conscious- 
ness that would fain leave it outside." And 
a poet it is that tells us of our memories that 
"these messengers from the unconscious re- 
mind us of what we are dragging behind us 
unawares" — ^namely, the past. And finally I 
want to quote, in Arthur Mitchell's transla- 
tion, the splendid passage by which Bergson 
explains the basis and purpose of our reason? 
"Harnessed, like yoked oxen, to a heavy task, 
we feel the play of our muscles and joints, the 
weight of the plow and the resistance of the 
soil. To act and to know that we are acting, 
to come into touch with reality and even to 
live it, but only in the measure in which it 
concerns the work that is being accomplished 
and the furrow that is being plowed, such is 
the fimction of human intelligence." 

Form, however, is merely a means to Berg- 


son — ^it holds the same relation to his thought 
as matter to life, rendering it visible and 
tangible. His chief power lies not in the 
charm exerted by his words, but in the fact 
that, while reading him, he makes us feel 
how life and its various processes are grow- 
ing more and more intelligible. It is as a 
philosopher in the highest sense of that term, 
as an interpreter of life who enables us to 
live more effectively, that he wins a lasting 
hold on our attention. Like all innovators, 
he stands to a large extent alone. His world- 
conception is not to be easily disposed of "by 
reference to some familiar ism/^ Of course, 
he continues the best thought of the past, but 
to us as well as to the future his departures 
from it are of more significance than his 
debt to it. 

The older philosophers made reason king. 
To them it was synonymous with conscious- 
ness. It offered the only acknowledged road 
to knowledge, and knowledge gained by any 
other route was not worth having. This 
master instrument, which they identified with 


the soul itself, they used principally to prove 
the unreality of whatever seemed palpably 
real to ordinary men. Out of the vast sur- 
rounding world they made an illusory 
shadow play, and out of ourselves mere 
dupes at the mercy of our senses and that 
very reason which they had enthroned so 
high above the spectral flow of time and 
space. To those thinkers of a bygone day 
only the type was real, not its unique indi- 
vidual embodiment, and the most real thing 
of all was a pale absolute created out of the 
stagnant air of their own studies. 

The revolt against this rationalistic, ideal- 
istic philosophy, with its equal contempt for 
facts and feelings, had begun before Berg- 
"")n was bom, but it was left for him to carry 
on to a triumphant climax. Continuing 
le work so gloriously started by Schopen- 
luer, Comte, Mill and Spencer, he has 
iken liberally from, and as liberally given 
), men like James and Dewey, Boutroux 
id Tarde, Wundt and Ostwald. But as 
; has outstripped the Utilitarianism and 


the Positivism of the past, so he has also 
gone beyond parallel forms of modern prac- 
ticalism. While placing himself firmly on 
the new ground won from the enclosing mi- 
known by present-day science, he has dared 
to give ear to those vague but insistent voices 
within that so often have lured man's soul 
from sober, iminspired thinking into Utopian 
or apocalyptic dreaming. But unlike so 
many other listeners to the siren song of in- 
tuition, he has kept his mind from losing 
itself in the fogs of purely emotional mys- 
ticism. And thus he has reached both the 
courage and the insight needed to create a 
new metaphysics, capable of satisfying oiu* 
own century's demand for actuality even in 
its dreams of the unknowable. 

The very corner-stone of Bergson's sys- 
tem must be sought in his definition of intel- 
lect a» "an appendage to the faculty of 
acting." We think in terms of action and 
for the sake of acting. Pure speculation, 
like "art for art's sake," is a mere luxury, 
while action is a necessity. And we see and 


iceive the surrounding world as an object 
our action. But in its constant outgoing 
raid the matter that fills this world, our 
sllect has been lured on to an inquiry into 
at life itself is — a problem that it could 
'er hope to solve unaided. 
3ere we should be left helpless but for the 
itinued presence within us of that lower, 
; complementary, form of consciousness — . 
tinct — which guides the animal world be- 
' man. Instinct deals with properties, and 
; with things; with life in its protean fluid- 
, and not with the congealed forms of mat- 
. This kind of consciousness is almost 
need within us, but it glimmers through 
r feelings, in our sudden sympathies and 
ipathies, wherever a vital interest of ours 
lomes involved. Our whole subconscious 
stence leaps unexpectedly into clear light 
en Bergson thus CMitrasts it with our self- 
iscious reasoning: "We think with only 
mall part of the past, but it is with our 
;ire past, including the original bent of 
r soul, that we desire, will, and act." 


Instinct, as Bergson views it, has access 
to the inner truths of life, but would never 
seek them and could never formulate them 
if left to itself. Pushed by the intellect, 
however, instinct turns upon itself, so to 
speak ; it becomes disinterested and self-con- 
scious ; it rises to intuition, which transcends 
intellect, while having to thank intellect for 
its rise. By trusting ourselves to intuition, 
we are rendered capable of plunging into 
that ever-moving, ever-changing stream of 
duration which is life itself. Therefore, a 
world-conception built up by the intellect 
alone must necessarily be mechanical, im- 
pressing us as a mosaic painfully pieced 
together ; while a philosophy sprung from in- 
tuitive knowledge, out of instinct pushed and 
controlled by intellect — a philosophy like 
Bergson's own — ^will affect us like a living, 
growing plant. 

Looking at the world in this way, and in 
this new light, Bergson finds not unity but 
duality : ever opposed and ever combined, life 
and matter are locked in never-ending strug- 


gle. Within all matter the energy that car- 
ries it tends to decline toward its lowest level 
— toward heat and the absolute zero. Life, 
on the other hand, strives everlastingly to 
raise energy to higher and higher levels— or, 
perhaps, merely to retard and suspend its 
descent. From the antagonism of these two 
tendencies or movements springs the exist- 
ence known to us through the testimony of 
our senses. 

The main characteristic of matter is exten- 
sion. It is placed in space, and as seen by our 
intellect, it seems essentially discontinuous. 
But this is merely an appearance, growing 
out of the inability of our intellect to grasp 
the flow of life except in the form of a series 
of snapshots, each of which gives us an im- 
pression of immobile discontinuity. The es- 
sential quality of life, on the other hand, is 
duration, and duration means flow, change, 
but also continuity, the underlying imity of 
all existence. For "duration," says Bergson, 
"is the continuous progress of the past, which 


gnaws into the future and which swells as it 

This is the one reality on which we may- 
build our world-conception; and time must 
be held real, both because it is irreversible, 
and because the pulsing changes that mark 
its passing in living beings can never be lost 
again. Memory is the presence within us 
of the whole past, ever pressing forward for 
admission, but it is revealed to us in frag- 
mentary form only because the intellect re- 
fuses to pick out from the host of memories 
anything that is not needed for impending 

Each new moment of our lives is seen by 
Bergson as a complex statey logically derived 
but unforeseeable. The element of unique- 
ness contained in each such state springs 
from the choice which our intellect makes be- 
tween reactions that are equally possible. 
"Each human work in which there is inven- 
tion," he says, "every voluntary act in which 
there is freedom, every movement of an or- 
ganism that manifests spontaneity, brings 



something new into the world." Thus, like 
James, he resists and resents the categorical 
alternative of the old philosophies, which de- 
clared that man must be either the complete 
master of his fate or its predestined slave. 
To him life is free within limits — or, as Scho- 
penhauer expressed it and Ibsen, among 
others, accepted it : "free under necessity." 

At the bottom of life itself, this movement 
that opposes and upholds matter, Bergson 
sees a vast, universal, groping force, an all- 
embracing impetus, that he names the ^Um 
vital — the Life Urge. Under the pressure 
of this impetus, existence is constantly di- 
verging, sheaf -like, from the common root. 
Each added divergence implies a seardi in 
new directions for some faculty essential to 
further progress. Thus appear the cleav- 
ages, first between vegetables, designed to 
store energy, and animals, designed to ex- 
pend it, and later between animals, moved by 
instinct, and men, guided by intellect. Ex- 
istence, viewed in this manner, is neither ac- 
cidental, as modem science would have us 


believe, nor shaped according to some precon- 
ceived plan, as the older philosophies be- 
lieved. It is, instead, experimental. The 
Life Urge seems to know T^at it needs only 
when it has obtained it, and thus life is led 
into many side-paths and blind alleys, though 
along its main path there is unbroken prog- 
ress. The action of this vital force and our 
own relationship to it, as well as to the rest 
of the universe, are summed up by Bergson 
in this more than usually lucid and striking 
passage : 

"As the smallest grain of dust is bound 
up with our entire solar system, drawn along 
with it in that undivided movement of de- 
scent which is materiality itself, so all organ- 
ized beings, from the humblest to the highest, 
from the first origins of life to the time in 
which we are, and in all places as in all times, 
do but evidence a single impulsion, the in- 
verse of the movement of matter, and in 
itself indivisible. All the living hold to- 
gether, and all jrield to the same tremendous 
push. The animal takes its stand on the 


plant, man bestrides animality, and the 
whole of humanity, in space and in time, is 
one immense army galloping beside and 
before and behind each of us in an over- 
whelming charge able to beat down every 
resistance and clear the most formidable ob- 
stacles, perhaps even death." 

I have here tried to give only a few salient 
points of Bergson's comprehensive world- 
view, and even these I have barely indicated. 
Concerning the revolutionary bearing of his 
ideas on future thought — ^that is, of their 
most important aspect — I shall have no 
chance to speak here. He himself refers time 
and again, not to his own philosophy in this 
connection, but to one that he expects the 
future to bring us. Of this coming and more 
deep-reaching elucidation of life he says: 
"Unlike the philosophical systems properly 
so called, each of which was the individual 
work of a man of genius and sprung up as a 
whole, to be taken or left, it will only be 
built up by the collective and progressive 
effort of many thinkers, of many observers 


also, completing, correcting, and improving 
one another." 

In other words, the new world-conception 
will be evolved by the race-mind itself, not 
by any individual mind, however great and 
comprehensive. This means that it will be 
"revealed" in the only sense that revelation 
can be accepted by modem man. It was thus 
that the bibles of mankind were produced — 
and as we look ahead from our present posi- 
tion, it seems destined that the future shall 
have its bibles no less than the past ; that life 
shall continue to pour its revelations into the 
hearts and heads of men ; and that each new 
sacred book conceived by humanity shall 
leave less of life's secrets undiscovered. It is 
on the making of these future bibles that 
men like James and Bergson are ever at 
work in a spirit of complete, reverential con- 
secration. And it is for the sake of this 
work that we, in turn, owe them not only rev- 
erence but, above all else, attention. 


THREE qualities determine whatever 
Bernard Shaw is or does, as man and 
artist, as reformer and philosopher. They 
are his_complete somidness of mind and 
body, his inflexible sincerity of conviction 
and purpose, and his remarkable many-sided- 
ness. The combination of these qualities 
have made him what he is to-day — a power 
both in the world of thought and in the 
world of action. His own coimtrymen may 
still meet him with puzzled laughter, but they 
listen nevertheless to his words with increas- 
ing deference. In fact, I think it will be 
hard to find any other man who has done 
more to give English opinion its present 
trend and form. Some of his plays have, ac- 
cording to himself, "been translated and per- 
formed in all European countries except 
Turkey, Greece, and Portugal." And no- 



body familiar with recent American thought 
can fail to recognize him as a dominant spir- 
itual factor on this no less than on the other 
side of the ocean. 

Shaw's characteristic soundness is not con- 
fined to muscles and brain cells. It extends 
to habits and instincts as well. It colors his 
entire outlook on life. It gives to his art a 
tone that some day will be recognized as 
kindred to that of Goethe. Proudly he has 
vaunted his own "abnormal normality." 
People have taken it as another joke. But 
it is true, and it must be realized before we 
may claim familiarity with that strange phe- 
nomenon known to us as "G. B. S." Not 
until we are similarly free from taint and 
weakness can we hope to see the world as it 
is mirrored in the genius of Shaw. 

Being healthy, Shaw is strong, and be- 
cause of his strength he has faith — ^in himself, 
in man, in life. It is this rather than his 
Celtic origin that has made him a "laughing 
moralist" of the order that embraces Aris- 
tophanes and Rabelais, Moliere and Heine. 


Weak men scream hysterically. Strong men 
laugh triimiphantly even in the face of dan- 
ger and death. Because of his faith founded 
on strength, Shaw can say: "When a habit 
of thought is silly, it only needs steady treat- 
ment by ridicule from sensible and witty peo- 
ple to be put out of countenance and perish." 
But back of his most smiling mood lies a 
serious purpose, and through his merriest 
jest glimmers the sharp steel of ruthless 
logic. "My way of joking is to tell the 
truth," says Father Keegan in "John Bull's 
Other Island." This is Shaw himself. Noth- 
ing is needed to turn his own jokes into wis- 
dom but our advance to a point where we, 
too, can see the truth. How deeply serious 
he is at heart — and also how deeply "social" 
is his view-point — may be concluded from 
what he said in the course of a private con- 
versation recorded by Professor Henderson : 
"I want to be thoroughly used up when I 
die, for the harder I work, the more I live. 
I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no 
*brief candle' for me. It is a sort of splendid 


torch, which I have got hold of for the mo- 
ment ; and I want to make it burn as brightly 
as possible before handing it on to future 

The natural accompaniment of his 
strength and his humor is an emotional bal- 
ance so perfect that it renders him vastly 
patient of everything but that hysterical sen- 
timentality which retards progress by ob- 
scuring the true relationships of life. "No 
more frightful misfortune could threaten us 
than a general spread of fanaticism," he de- 
clared not long ago. It is this balance that 
enables him to see the other man's side, and 
that helps him to "look all around" the sub- 
ject he is dealing with. An illustration may 
be drawn from his latest volume, which con- 
tains a "Preface on Doctors," among other 
things. There every foible and fault of the 
medical profession stands mercilessly re- 
vealed. But there appears also this unsur- 
passed interpretation of that same profession 
at its best: "The true doctor is inspired by 


a hatred of ill-health, and a divine impatience 
of any waste of vital forces." 

Because he is a genius in robust health and 
a moralist vs^ith a sense of humor, Shaw has 
escaped the one-sidedness which so often 
limits and mars even minds of real greatness. 
From the first he has striven for harmonious 
development of all faculties rather than for 
exaggerated accentuation of any one among 
them. Were it otherwise, he might have 
ranked higher as artist, as reformer, or as 
thinker. As it is, we find his true greatness 
in an all-sidedness that combines, on one side, 
practice with theory, on the other side, the 
qualities of the artist with those of the re- 
former and the philosopher. And Shaw him- 
self would be little loath to tell you that this 
all-inclusive greatness is greater than any 
other. But it is a gift that renders the pos- 
sessor liable to more than an ordinary share 
of misunderstanding and misconstruction. 
Few men have been more heavily punished 
in this way than Shaw, and none that I can 
think of has passed through the inevitable 



ordeal with less bitterness against the rest of 
,v y Springing from the prosperous middle 
p\/ class, Shaw holds defiantly that it is this 
stock which breeds the men by whom the 
world is constantly being remade. Left to 
himself by his parents, and regarding school 
as a mere "interruption of his education," he 
acquired early a spirit of independence and 
originality that has remained one of his chief 
characteristics through life. Early he learned 
also the great art of "doing without" as well 
as to rely on inner rather than outside sources 
for inspiration and consolation. While still 
little more than a child, he was introduced by 
his mother to the marvelous realm of modem 
art, and particularly to modem music. And 
when, years later, he became a critic, every 
line he wrote proclaimed him a man who had 
learned by seeing and hearing and thinking 
for himself, instead of by committing the 
words of other men to heart. 

After five years of unwilling devotion to 
business, he removed to London — a boy of 


twenty who had practically to rely on his 
mother for a livelihood. Nine years of seem^ 
ing failure followed. They were years of un- 
broken growth and relentless effort. They 
were also the years when "nobody would pay 
a farthing for a stroke of his pen." But 
during those long, penniless years he com- 
pleted five big novels that have since been 
revived with success. At last he found a 
footing in London's vast world of letters, 
and from 1885 to 1898 he enjoyed a con- 
stantly growing reputation as a critic of 
music, art, and the drama. In 1892 he turned 
once more to imaginative writing, and when 
at last he abandoned the critic's ofiice for- 
ever, his position as a playwright was already 

While still a seeker after a self-made for- 
tune, he became a Socialist and began his 
career as a worker for a new and better pub- 
lic order. In 1884 he joined that little band 
of talented agitators whose success at remold- 
ing English opinion and English politics has 
made the name of the Fabians famous all 


over the world. From the first he served 
their cause not only as "pamphleteer in ordi- 
nary," but as one of their most effective 
speakers and lecturers^ — a fact made the 
more notable by his initial failure in every 
attempt at public address. Like Demos- 
thenes of old, he struggled the harder the 
more he failed. For a year he made it a rule 
to deliver at least one speech in public every 
week, most of them reaching the British pub- 
lic "from a cart in Hyde Park." And in the 
end he won out, here as elsewhere. 

As one of the leaders of progressive Lon- 
don politics he was elected a borough coun- 
cilor for St. Pancras, and during his six 
years of service he surprised his opponents 
by proving himself "a steady attendant and 
a level-headed man of business." No episode 
in this phase of his life is more typical of 
his broad-minded attitude toward everything 
and everybody than his defeat as a candidate 
for London county coimcilor in 1904. This 
was brought about by his refusal to overlook 
the good points in the Conservative govern- 


merit's education bill, about which the battle 

"Like all dramatists and mimes of genu- 
ine vocation, I am a natural-bom mounte- 
bank," Shaw wrote once. It meant only 
that, imlike most of his colleagues, he had 
the courage and insight to accept the humble 
beginnings and historical growth of all art 
centring in the stage. For as an artist he 
- has proved himself no less sincere than as 
man and social worker. A master of form, 
he has always looked beyond it to the spirit 
that, in the la§t analysis, makes all great art 
what it is. "The pleasures of the senses I 
can sympathize with and share," he says; 
"but the substitution of sensuous ecstasy for 
intellectual activity and honesty is the very 
devil." And he has also said that "a states- 
man who confines himself to popular legisla- 
tion — or a playwright who confines himself 
to popular plays — is like a blind man's dog, 
who goes wherever the blind man pulls him." 

More than once he has been charged with 
a lack of artistic humility. But what seemed 


like rank arrogance — ^his criticism of Shake- 
speare, for example — ^was merely a clear- 
eyed realization of the need every new age 
feels for an art and a literature wholly its 
own. The world is ever moving on to new 
knowledge and new problems, he tells us, 
and therefore "the humblest author may pro- 
fess to have something to say by this time 
that neither Homer nor Shakespeare said." 
To be fully appreciated, these words should 
be read in connection with another utterance 
of his: "The next Shakespeare that comes 
along will turn these petty tentatives of mine 
into masterpieces final for their epoch." 

How much of his work will live, or how 
long it will live, no one may presume to fore- 
tell as yet. And it is almost as hard to de- 
termine the comparative value of his various 
productions. Shaw himself has talked slight- 
ingly of the "jejune" novels from his "non- 
age," and less disinterested critics have 
accepted his judgment. But I suspect that 
the future will look upon them in a much 
more favorable light. They are wonderfully 


vital and no less wonderfully modern. It 
seems almost beyond reason that a man in 
the early twenties wrote them. "Cashel 
Byron's Profession," the first of Shaw's 
works ever published in book form, was de- 
clared by the Saturday Review to be "the 
novel of the age." Looking back at his sec- 
ond novel from the height of experience 
gained in 1905, Shaw wrote of "The Irra- 
tional Knot" that he "found it fiction of the 
first order." I am personally inclined to rank 
"Love Among the Artists" with the biggest 
books of the period, and I think it must be 
classed among the main forebears of such 
commanding works as Wells' "Tono-Bun- 
gay" and Bennett's "Clayhanger." Unlike 
other forebears, however, it remains capable 
of holding its own beside its offspring. 

As a playwright Shaw has done more to 
instil new ideas into the drama than to im- 
prove its form. He himself has asserted that 
"it is the philosophy, the outlook on life, that 
changes, not the craft of the plajrwright." 
But for all that, his formal perfection has 


always been noteworthy, and more than once 
he has broken new paths in this line also. 
"Getting Married," one of the plays included 
in the volume published in the spring of 
1911, marks a step ahead not only in spirit 
but in execution. Besides being one of the 
finest and deepest dramas that ever flowed 
from his fruitful pen, it is a masterpiece of 
design. While having the usual length of a 
whole evening play, it is drawn together into 
a single act, thereby gaining a unity and 
force rarely surpassed among modem plays. 
Strindberg has previously worked along sim- 
ilar lines, but one can easily see that Shaw, 
as usual, has been following the voice from 
within, and not a pattern imposed from 

It has been said of "Getting Married" in 
particular, though the charge is not quite 
new, that nobody in it does anything but 
talk. This is false. Life histories are laid 
bare. Human fates are changed. All kinds 
of things happen — ^but not in the form com- 
monly recognized as "action." There are no 


murders, no hand-to-hand combats, no vio- 
lence of any kind. Yet there is conflict 
enough and to spare — conflict of that real, 
inner kind which is the only one having valid 
place in the modern drama. And then we 
get, as always, the most wonderful revela- 
tions of human character. Perhaps no other 
phase of Shaw's art deserves more attention 
or higher praise than his character drawing, 
which, I think, has few equals in this or any 
other period. Here I can only instance the 
tender irony surrounding most of the figures 
in "John Bull's Other Island," and the mer- 
ciless, yet comprehending, satire with which 
every person in "The Doctor's Dilemma" 
has been pictured. Nor does Shaw fall short 
in that perfection which English dramatic 
tradition has placed above all others — 
namely, force and beauty of expression. One 
must seek far and wide to find anything 
more deeply poetical than that passage which 
Shaw lets Mrs. George in "Getting Mar- 
ried" utter in a trance, her forehead touched 
by the hand of the man whom her soul has 


loved for years, while her body has had love 
adventures with all sorts of other men. She 
speaks on behalf of Eternal Woman, saying : 
"When you loved me I gave you the whole 
sun and stars to play with. I gave you 
eternity in a single moment, strength of the 
mountains in one clasp of your arms, and 
the volume of all the seas in one impulse of 
your soul. A moment only; but was it not 
enough? Were you not paid then for all 
the rest of your struggle on earth? Must I 
mend your clothes and sweep your floors as 
well? Was it not enough? I paid the price 
without bargaining : I bore the children with- 
out flinching ; was that a reason for heaping 
fresh burdens on me? I carried the child in 
my arms: must I carry the father, too? 
When I opened the gates of paradise, were 
you blind ? was it nothing to you ? When all 
the stars sang in your ears and all the winds 
swept you into the heart of heaven, were you 
deaf? were you dull? was I no more to you 
than a bone to a dog? Was it not enough? 
We spent eternity together ; and you ask me 


for a little lifetime more. We possessed all 
the universe together ; and you ask me to give 
you my scanty wages as well. I have given 
you the greatest of all things; and you ask 
me to give you little things. I gave you your 
own soul : you ask me for my body as a play- 
thing. Was it not enough? Was it not 

Not long ago Shaw proclaimed himself "a 
specialist in immoral and heretical plays." 
But "immoral" is to him "whatever is con- 
trary to established manners and customs." 
To work for a change along rational lines is 
the supreme duty of him who takes his art 
seriously. The directional tendency of this 
change he has indicated as follows: "The 
whole difficulty of bringing up a family well 
is the difficulty of making its members be- 
have as considerately at home as on a visit in 
a strange house, and as frankly, kindly, and 
easily in a strange house as at home." Frank- 
ness and kindness are to him the main virtues, 
whether only the family or society as a whole 
be considered. And he knows of no better 


means for their promotion than being a 
Socialist. Marxian economics he accepts, 
but what he really aims at is the substitution 
of social interdependence for individual self- 
sufficiency. He wants organization and 
brotherly cooperation above everything else, 
deeming "any orthodoxy better than laisser- 
faire/' And though a Socialist, he has no use 
for "the modern notion that democracy 
means governing a country according to the 
ignorance of its majorities." On the con- 
trary, he believes that "we need aristocracy 
in the sense of government by the best." 

He has never wasted any time on the 
building of Utopias, but what his mind's eye 
reads out of the future for which he is hoping 
may be concluded from his recent reference 
to the present time as "the famine years of 
the soul, when the great vital dogmas of 
honor, liberty, courage, the kinship of all 
life, faith that the unknown is greater than 
the known and is only the As Yet Unknown, 
and resolution to find a manly highway to it, 
have been forgotten in a paroxysm of little- 


ness and terror." What strikes one at once 
about this passage is its spiritual, not to say 
mystical, tone. He expects material order- 
liness and efficiency from the state that is to 
come, but with these alone he will not be sat- 
isfied. Above them he places the develop- 
ment of the individual to a point where virtue 
shall come as naturally as breathing. And 
his conception of virtue is decidedly austere. 
He has written "Plays for Puritans" — ^he is 
a Puritan. But his morality is, first of all, 
cleanliness — not only of word and act, but 
of thought. It is more: the actual fastidi- 
ousness of a soul whose tastes, according to 
one of his biographers, "is by nature pecul- 
iarly free from what is gross." 

Here we have a reason why this arch- 
iconoclast declares marriage "practically in- 
evitable" and wants nothing but to render 
it "reasonable" by making divorce easily 
obtainable and women economically inde- 
pendent of men. Here as elsewhere, he has 
no use for mere freedom, and his ideas of 
honor are as rigid as those of any "hour- 


geois." His attitude is well symbolized by 
the manner in which HotchJdss draws back 
from Mrs. George in the final scene of "Get- 
ting Married/' while annomicing that, "To 
disbelieve in marriage is easy ; to love a mar- 
ried woman is easy ; but to betray a comrade, 
to be disloyal to a host, to break the covenant 
of salt and bread, is impossible." 

His individual and social morals are the 
direct outgrowth of his philosophical ideas, 
which he has not taken ready-made from 
others, as has been hinted more than once. 
Those ideas have come to him just as they 
came to Ibsen and Nietzsche : out of the spir- 
itual atmosphere in which both he and they 
were born. To-day his ideas are being scien- 
tifically formulated by men like Wilhelm 
Ostwald and Henri Bergson. They imply a 
new philosophy that may be called "psycho- 
sociological" in distinction from the older 
theological and mechanical philosophies. As 
Shaw sees life, it is never purposeless, never 
a matter of chance, never capable of turning 


back upon its already covered trail. Its way 
leads ever onward, and the direction is de- 
termined from within by a miiversal force, 
the Life Force — ^the same as Bergson's elan 
vital — ^which employs whatever has being for 
the accomplishment of its own unformulated 

Not sinners nor saints are we, but more or 
less efficient instruments in the hands of that 
force. When we follow its biddings and 
urgings, then we experience happiness. 
When we defy or neglect them, then we sink 
beneath that crushing sense of utter futility 
which Blanco Posnet can only designate as 
"feeling rotten." All that Shaw has striven 
to teach us during his long and fruitful 
career as critic and playwright, as reformer 
and thinker, may be summed up in these 
words, leaping from the lips of the horse- 
thief, when the noose is barely off his neck: 

"You bet He didn't make us for nothing; 
and He wouldn't have made us at all if He 
could have done His work without us. • . . 


He made me because He had a job for me. 
He let me run loose till the job was ready; 
and then I had to come along and do it, 
hanging or no hanging. And I tell you, it 
didn't feel rotten: it felt bully, just bully!" 

Fault has been found with the setting of 
this play, which is laid somewhere in the 
great American West, and also with the dia- 
lect and manners of the characters. But even 
if this criticism be warranted by facts, it is 
not worth making. For all superficial real- 
ities sink into complete insignificance beside 
those higher spiritual realities with which the 
little drama is saturated. The words and 
walks of men may have been drawn a little 
awry — just as some of the greatest pictures 
known to the history of art may be found 
"out of drawing" by those who think all 
truth lies on the surface — ^but Shaw has never 
given us more truthful or more vital pictures 
of human souls than in just this play. 

The horse-thief caught because of a mo- 
ment's surrender to human pity and brought 


back to be hung for his theft — or for his 
"softness," as he himself puts it — ^what a 
background for a conversion such as Will- 
iam James would have loved to record 1 And 
one by one the hardened creatures about him 
are drawn into that magic circle which 
Blanco Posnet has created around himself by 
his one lapse from genuine blackguardism. 
And in the end light breaks into his heart; 
he sees what has been done with him, and 
what he has to do. 

"This little play is really a religious tract 
in dramatic form," says Shaw himself of 
"The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet," and 
he speaks the truth. For he is a very re- 
ligious man, indeed — so much so that his life 
and his art, his morals and his philosophy, 
are mere adjuncts to his religion: the great 
religion of the Life Force that demands of 
us at once so much and so little. What it 
does demand according to Shaw is merely 
that we learn to see and act upon the truth 
that flashed its illumination into Blanco Pos- 


nefs heart as he cried: "There's no good 
and bad; but, by Jiminy, gents, there's a rot- 
ten game, and there's a great ganie. I played 
the rotten game; but the great game was 
played on me; and now I'm for the great 
game every time. Amen." 




ON this side of the water Galsworthy is 
probably best known through the in- 
fluence exercised by his play, "Justice," on 
prison reform in England. Great as this 
practical achievement was, it tends, however, 
to give a false idea of Galsworthy's position 
in our present-day world of letters. For he 
is first of all an artist, not a reformer, and 
his main object in writing is not to effect this 
or that social improvement, but to display to 
the living generation both its own innermost 
soul and the world it has made for itself to 
live in. 

Of artists he speaks as "soft and indeter- 
minate spirits, for whom barriers have no 
meaning, content to understand, interpret, 
and create." He tells us also how the artist 
may come "so near that thing which has no 



breadth, the middle line, that he can watch 
both sides, and positively smile to see the 
fmi." It is just because of this carefully 
preserved aloofness, accompanied by a smile 
that is often sad and mostly somewhat bit- 
ter, but for all that rarely without a certain 
tenderness, that such works of Galsworthy's 
as the one just mentioned, or his earlier play, 
"The Silver Box," can affect the public mind 
as they have actually done. For the public 
knows that they have come from a balanced, 
unbiased observer, and not from an alarmist 
^ bent on melodramatic effects. 

Having recently had our attention called 
to him in this sensational way, we are also 
perhaps inclined to regard Galsworthy as a 
later arrival than he really is. As a fact, he 
has been turning out a dozen volumes in as 
many years, and even the earlier ones of 
these are, by common consent among the 
critics, placed with the foremost products of 
modem English literature. Here his fame 
has spread with rarely exampled rapidity 
since he was first introduced only a few years 


ago. And. this fame is not of the kind that 
may be called a fad. 

One of the first impressions conveyed by 
Galsworthy's art is its modernity. None 
lives more intensely or more completely in 
the current hour. At times this quality 
seems a little strained, as when he lets Win- 
low in "The Patrician" come visiting in a 
biplane. But as a rule it is the unaffected 
expression of the author's essential nature 
and relates to the spirit rather than the ap- 
pearance of things. 

Surveying our own period from his posi- 
tion at "the middle line" and with the calm 
glance of an artist, Galsworthy finds it "a 
time between two ages." From this time 
"the Spirit of Balance has fled," as he puts 
it. And the chief mark of its himian genera- / 
tion he finds in a vain struggle to reach sta- 
bility between a dying and a coming faith — 
between the faith in authority, in the god- 
given destiny of "the best men," and the 
faith in voluntary service and the intrinsic 
worth of all normal men. There are still, as 


there has been through the long, bygone 
ages, three social classes, but one of these, 
the great middle-class, is hopelessly divided 
within itself, so that its lower part tends to 
sink into the class beneath, while its upper 
part is striving to join the class above. Thus 
the moment seems near when we shall have 
nothing but indifferent Olympians at the top 
nd brute beasts at the bottom. 
Few living writers equal Galsworthy in 
the art of producing real human creatures. 
All his works aboimd in men and women that 
we might have observed on our latest shop- 
ping tour or met at some recent "at home." 
They bristle with individuality; they quiver 
wdth genuine vitality; they attract or repel 
us, as if we were looking into living eyes and 
listening to spoken words. But for all this 
artful character drawing, so abundantly and 
so tellingly displayed^ Galsworthy seems to 
nie above all a painter of social groups. And 
it is not as separate individuals, but as types 
of such groups, that his characters obtain 
their utmost significance. In other words. 


his impressionism is miderlaid with symbol- 
ism, so that he constantly uses the superficial 
reality of the fleeting moment to ensnare and 
hold the lasting reality of the spirit within. 
Figures like Mrs. Pendyce and old Lady 
Casterley, like Gregory Vigil and Hilary 
DallisoUj like old Jolyon Forsyte and Lady 
''Bahsf^ are no allegorical puppets, indeed. 
But they are also more than ordinary men 
and women. Through every one of them an 
integral part of our ever-renewed humanity 
finds valid utterance. 

Galsworthy has been named a poet of de- 
mocracy. But in spite of his sympathetic 
recognition of every element entering into 
modern society, theJoHgir classes play, on the 
whole, a subordinate part in his works. Even 
in his wonderful sketches, so many of which 
are devoted to "Demos" — "those dim multi- 
tudes who, since the world began, have lived 
from hand to mouth'Wwe are given only 
studies of heads and hands, so to speak, and 
not full-length portraits. 

This more detailed art Galsworthy has re- 


served for what might be called our present- 
day brand of superman. Painstakingly and 
ironically he has "traced the course of aris- 
tocracy, from its primeval rise in crude 
1 strength or subtlety, through centuries of 
\ power, to picturesque decadence, and the be- 
ginning of its last stand." Thus, in "The 
Man of Property," we become acquainted 
with the wealthy middle-class, recently ar- 
rived and still smelling a little of the soil. 
Its maxim is "ease with security." Its mem- 
bers belong to the great Forsyte tribe, of 

• which young Jolyon says : "A Forsyte takes 


I a practical view of things, and a practical 
! view is based fundamentally on a sense of 
property." They are "opportunists and 
egotists one and all," but they are also "the 
pillars of society, the comer-stones of con- 
ventionality, and everything that is admir- 

Passing on to "The Country House," we 
enter the presence of those who suffer from 
the mysterious disease of "Pendycitis," the 
"little kings of their own dunghills," the 


group of aristocratic landed proprietors. 
They live and die at Worsted Skeynes, the 
vast acres of which must surely adjoin those 
of Wells' Bladesover. They are not bad: 
"they merely lack — feelers; a loss that is suf- 
fered by plants and animals which no longer 
have a need for using them." Such labors as 
they perform "are devoted directly or indi- 
rectly to interests of their own." And "their 
God is kind and lives between the cellar and 
the kitchen of the Stoics' Club," to which 
they all belong. 

Finally, in "The Patrician" we meet with 
the true nobility, owners of large estates and 
real rulers of the land. Here, at last, we 
have genuine supermen, in so far as our time 
has been able to produce any at all. Whether 
they are better than the rest, or Galsworthy 
has mellowed in his development, they are 
certainly portrayed in a less damaging light 
than their social inferiors. As we now see 
them, it is their business "to be efficient, but 
not strenuous, or desirous of pushing ideas 
to their logical conclusions ; to be neither nar- 

• • • »'i 

• " ••» • « » W k, 

• • . - > >-. 


row nor puritanical, so long as the shell of 
'good form' is preserved intact; to be liberal 
landlords up to the point of not seriously 
damaging their interests ; to be well-disposed 
toward the arts until these arts reveal that 
which they have not before perceived; to 
have light hands, steady eyes, iron nerves, 
and those excellent manners that have no 
mannerisms." At their best, each of them 
shows "the personality of a man practical, 
spirited, guarded, resourceful, with great 
power of self-control, who looks at life as if 
she were a horse under him, to whom he must 
give way just so far as is necessary to keep 
mastery of her." 

Though here we have noted definite dis- 
tinctions between the various groups claim- 
ing membership in the great order of super- 
men, these distinctions have far less weight 
or prominence than the points of resem- 
blance. For all these claimants to super- 
manhood — ^whether they trace their ancestry 
back to the Norman conquest or admit a 
grandfather who "had to do with the land 

to k 


down in Dorsetshire" — possess in common 
this creed: "I believe in my father, and his 
father, and his father's father, the makers 
and keepers of my estate, and I believe in 
myself and my son and my son's son. And 
I believe that we have made the coimtry, and 
shall keep the country what it is. And I be- 
lieve in my social equals and the country 
house, and in things as they are, for ever and 
ever. Amen I" 

To understand exactly how Galsworthy 
sees them, we must quote what he says in 
The Patrician" of old Lady Casterley: 
She had only one weak spot — and that was 
her strength — ^blindness as to the nature and 
size of her place in the scheme of things." 
We are also told how she "instinctively re- 
jected that inner knowledge of herself or of 
the selves of others, produced by those fool- 
ish practices of introspection, contemplation,' 
and understanding, so deleterious to author-; 
ity." And in "The Island Pharisees" wei 
find the rebellious Shelton asking himself 
"Can a man suffer from passion, heart- 





searching, or misgivings, and remain a gen- 

They are not bad, these supposed super- 
men — they are just blind. They suffer all 
and one from "inability to see into the hearts 
of others" — ^and "you want a bit o' mind to 
think of other people," remarks the flagman 
in "A Commentary." They are moved by 
"an instinctive dread of what is foreign to 
themselves, an instinctive fear of seeing an- 
other's point of view, an instinctive belief in 
precedent." Not one of them has discovered 
that even they may be "mere puppets in the 
power of great forces that care nothing for 
family or class or creed, but move, machine- 
like, with dread processes to inscrutable 

Not one of them, I said — ^but yes, there 
are a few whose eyes have been opened ; men 
like Shelton in "The Island Pharisees" or 
Hilary in "Fraternity." These see, and suf- 
fer for it, and become outcasts or solitaries 
in the midst of their own people. Sight 
brings doubt, and doubt is fatal to aspira- 

:• -^ •  

;• • *•• ♦•. • » 

• ' * * • • • 

* • • • * 


tions toward supermanhood. Blind faith is 
needful to all leadership — for the present at 
least. Not until I came across this distinc- 
tion between those who see and those who do 
not see "their place in the scheme of things" 
did I get a meaning out of "Fraternity." 
It is the pale and uneventful drama of 
the would-be superman whose oversensitive 
vision has begun to search his own heart. 

^Galsworthy apparently believes in those 
great forces whose mysterious workings are 
so well hidden to the members of the Stoics* 
Club. And it seems to me as if he wrote 
his novels, in particular, rather for the pur- 
pose of illustrating the presence of those 
forces. in life, than to- diueidate the fates of 
individuals. His plots are always slender. 
As a rule they are strung on a love story. 
But this story is never the core of what fills 
the book. As far as I can make out, Gals- 
worthy plays so much stress on love merely 
because it is a common and very powerful 
passion. And he uses it mainly to bring the 




principles of Forsytism and Pendicitis into 

"The Patrician" shows probably better 
than any other volume what the author has 
in mind. Eustace Miltoun is the very em- 
bodiment of the family tradition — and he 
comes nearer being a superman, raised above 
his own self, than any other figure in Gals- 
worthy's vast gallery. To him work is life. ' ^ 
And work means one thing, and no other: 
leadership. Yet he surrenders this most vital 
demand of his nature when tempted through 
Audrey Noel, the "incarnation of passive 
and entwifting love." And therewith the 
whole family goes into action, revealing 
themselves as only a threat against their class 
and group interests could make them do. In 
the end Miltoun is saved from himself by the 
family and by the greater insight of the 
woman he loves. But for an accident almost, 
his very blindness would have doomed him 
to a lifetime of defeat. When placed between 
the universal force of love and the instincts 
of his type, he cries out Oigainst the cruelty 


of God, not seeing that his fate is being 
crushed not against walls raised by God but 
by the self-preserving egoism of his own 

It has been said of this story that Gals- 
worthy wants to indicate a surrender of duty 
to love. I know nothing of his intentions, 
but what I read out of the book is a question \ 
why we should continue institutions that 
must frequently bring love and duty into 
fatal conflict. And one more thing I dis- 
cover — ^what seems like a deep-lying piece 
of symbolism. Miltoun and Noel, the repre- 
sentatives of two extremes, have to wander 
through hfe without offspring. The same 
fate befalls Courtier^ another extremist. But 
the race-life will be carried on by individuals 
who, like the fascinating JLady ''Babs'^ and 
young Harbinger, stand, after all, for more \ 
or less compromise. 

Reading Galsworthy, I am constantly re- 
minded of Ibsen and Meredith — not because 
he has imitated either one of these masters, 
but because he continues the forma,l and 


spiritual traditions of Bbfh. His attitude 
toward woman is theirs. Meredith himself 
might have expressed the objection felt by 
Shelton in "The Island Pharisees" against 
"the tone in which men spoke of women — 
not exactly with hostility, not exactly with 
contempt — ^best, perhaps, described as cul- 
tured jeering." While from the vitriolic 
pen of Ibsen might have sprung the words 
uttered by the parson in the same story: 
"The questions of morality have always lain 
through God in the hands of men, not wom- 
en. We are the reasonable sex." In this 
connection it is interesting to compare the 
attitude of Nora with that of Mrs. Pendyce, 
regarding whose decision to leave her hus- 
band Galsworthy says: "Just as there was 
nothing violent in her manner of taking this 
step, so there was nothing violent in her con- 
ception of it. To her it was not rimning 
away, a setting of her husband at defiance; 
there was no concealment of address, no 
melodramatic 'I cannot come back to you.' " 
And perfectly delicious is the greeting she 


gives her startled husband when she returns 
as quietly as she had gone : "Well, are you 
not glad to see me?" 

Of Galsworthy's methods and power of 
expression I shall have no chance to speak 
here, though it was his formal perfection that 
first gained- a hearing for his art. Be it 
enough said that he finds beauty everywhere, 
and that finding it, his soul leaps out in glad 
ecstasy, uttering words deeply fraught with 
the glories they celebrate. Not since, as a 
boy, I first beheld the marvels of a shadow 
play have I experienced the sensation con- 
ferred by a single, simple phrase of his: 
"Far away on the rising uplands, the slow 
ploughman drove, outlined against the sky." 

In the same casual way only can I refer 
to thoscLstrains of irony and tenderness which 
run forever interiwM tough his pages, 
endowing them with an emotional as well as 
artistic satisfaction of rarely surpassed in- 
tensity. At first, with the sternness of youth 
still in his veins, he was more bitter than 
sweet, but with the storing up of years and 


experience the blending of those two comple- 
mentary qualities has become more and more 
perfectly balanced, until at last we find the 
man capable of such gentle, yet biting, irony 
as that expressed in his description of the 
magnificent S within Forsyte: "His mind 
was the junction of two curiously opposed 
emotions ; a lingering and sturdy satisfaction 
that he had made his own way and his own 
\ fortune, and a sense that a man of his dis- 
/ tinction should never have been allowed to 
soil his mind with work." 

In order to classify his art properly, by 
reference to both its form and spirit, I fear 
that some new term would have to be in- 
vented. I have already spoken of his "sym- 
bolical impressionism" in character-drawing. 
This implies a merging of two tendencies 
that in the past were ever fighting against 
each other for supremacy. To define the re- 
sult of such a merger with desirable preci- 
sion, I might name Galsworthy a "spiritual 
realist" — a term particularly apposite to a 


time which contends that the universe is built 
up not out of matter but of energy. 

And this synthetical character of Gals- 
worthy's art manifests itself in many differ- 
ent ways. Thus — ^to add only one more 
instance^— his. work may be regarded as one 
continuous sermon against one-sided indi- 
vidualism, and the whole spirit of his art 
must be deemed social in the best sense. Yet 
he recognizes keenly what the race has gained 
by its ages of overemphasized individualism, 
and he expresses his understanding in words 
like these: "Give me a single example of a 
nation, or an individual, who's ever done 
any good without having worked up to it 
from within." -J 

Like Ibsen, GalwKorthy isi-^xjuestionei: 
who leaves the answers to be foimd by his f 
readers. So fearful is he of taking sides or I 
intruding a lesson that at times, as in 
"Strife," he appears to some readers guilty 
of indifference. That he has a philosophy 
cannot be doubted, but it has generally to 
be distilled in drops from his works. Here 


and there, however, one is granted a clear 
glimpse of the faith that moves the man. 
^-JEotLlhepresentgeneration he has little hope. 
"You can't get grapes from thorns, or figs" 
from thistles — at least not in one genera- 
tion," says one of his characters. But better 
thingsaiid better men are coming. "At bot- 
tom mankind is splendid," cries Courtier^ the 
knight-errant, "and they're raised by the as- 
piration that's in all of them." As they rise, 
they will perceive more and more clearly that 
"God is within the world, not outside it." 
Struggling onward, they are filled with "a 
wayward feeling that the Universe is indi- 
visible, that power has not devolved but 
evolved, that things are relative, not abso- 
lute." And "like children whose mother has 
departed from their home, they are slowly 
being forced to trust in, and be good to, 
themselves and to one another, and so to 
form out of their necessity, desperately, 
unconsciously, their new great belief in 




ONE of the serious problems of our civil- 
ization is how to make the literary- 
treasures of each nation the common prop- 
erty of mankind. Its natural difficulty be- 
comes multiplied when we turn to the 
current literary production of a small coun- 
try whose language is rarely heard along the 
highroads of modem world-culture. I am 
just now having in mind the large and fruit- 
ful Swedish literature that has sprung into 
life during the last thirty years. 

Prior to the eighties, Sweden could hardly 
be credited with any imaginative writers 
worthy of cosmopolitan reputation. With 
the appearance of August Strindberg the sit- 
uation changed. He not only swept away 
the artificialities and sentimentalities which, 
until then, had walled off the literature of 



Sweden from the spirit that was triumphing 
throughout the rest of Europe, but he 
achieved for the language a rejuvenation 
that can only be compared to what was done 
for England by the poets and dramatists of 
the Elizabethan age. Where he led the way, 
scores of talented men and women soon fol- 
lowed, so that to-day Sweden possesses a lit- 
erature that in richness and significance is 
more than proportionate to its political and 
economical importance. 

Many, if not most, of these newcomers are 
almost as well known in Germany as in their 
native land — a fact that serves strongly to 
promote that Pan-Germanic spirit of which 
Bjomstjeme Bjornson was the most con- 
spicuous advocate during his later life. But 
what Germany has eagerly availed herself 
of, has been contemptuously neglected by 
England and America. Strindberg is to- 
day known in the English-speaking coun- 
tries more through what has been written 
about him than through translations of his 
own work. The Nobel prize is at last doing 


for Selma Lagerlof what her own worth 
could not achieve — and wherever she finds a 
reader, there, as a rule, she wins a heart. A 
start has also been made toward transplant- 
ing the ideas of Ellen Key, who is rapidly 
becoming recognized as one of the foremost 
women thinkers of our age, having been fa- 
miliar to intellectual Germany for nearly 
twenty years. But outside of these few fa- 
vored ones, who are the Swedish writers 
known even by name in the countries where 
the English tongue prevails? How many 
people in the United States or Great Britain, 
even among those who take pride in watching 
the onward march of Western literature, 
have as much as heard of Heidenstam, Hall- 
strom, Levertin, Geijerstam, Hansson, Fors- 
lund, Hedberg, Froding, Roos ? How many 
Americans or Englishmen have heard of him 
that started me on this trend of thought — 
of Hjalmar Soderberg? 

To be sure, he belongs to the youngest and 
least prolific. The first book of his that at- 
tracted any attention at all was published 


in 1895, and not until 1901 did he produce 
a work that commanded wide-spread ap- 
proval. So far he has to his credit only nine 
volumes: one of youthful verse; three made 
up of short stories ; three novels — all of them 
brief; one of essays and personal impres- 
sions — ^his latest; and one containing a play 
that has also been acted with striking success 
on the Scandinavian stages. The title of this 
play is "Gertrude." His best book of short 
stories is named "The Strangers." His nov- 
els are "Errors," "Martin Birck's Youth," 
and "Dr. Glass." 

Though other men are more popular, S6- 
derberg holds to-day undisputed rank among 
Sweden's foremost writers. For one thing, 
his prose is so perfect, so vital, so closely 
related to life, that in this respect he is not 
surpassed even by Strindberg himself, that 
master-moulder of the Swedish tongue. His 
style has at once so much of strength and of 
beauty in it, that I think these qualities would 
defy the levelling effects of a translation. 
There is in it much to remind the reader of 


Anatole France. And with France he has 
frequently been compared. That he himself 
realizes a kinship may be concluded from the 
fact that he has furnished masterly Swedish 
renderings of some of the French master's 
best works — ^such, for instance, as "La Rot- 
tisserie de la Reine Pedauque." Yet the 
pupil stands as much on his own feet as does 
the master. But the quiet charm, the quaint 
simplicity, the artistic reserve, the gentle 
irony, and the deep insight, which make the 
Frenchman's pages an endless source of de- 
light, are all to be found in the writings of 
the young Swede. The latter has already 
created figures that may be ranked abreast 
of M. Bergeret, but I doubt whether his pen 
will ever prove capable of a Jacques Tourn- 
broche. For his himaor is neither as broad 
nor as wise as that of France; he is less tol- 
erant and more pessimistic. 

But whereas France is at bottom almost 
always constructive, the spirit of Soderberg 
is still largely negative. He remains critical, 
that is, without a clearly expressed hope that 



his or anybody else's strictures may goad 
either society or the individual on to better 
things. And herein I find the greatest ob- 
stacle to the successful introduction of Soder- 
berg to American or British readers. In- 
stinctively these two national groups turn 
with impatience from whatever has not at the 
bottom of it a spark of optimism. Such a 
glimmer of light to sustain our courage when 
the darkness presses most heavily upon our 
souls Soderberg disdains wholly to offer. 

The keynotes to his world-conception are, 
on one side, his depressing sense of life as a 
great tedium, and, on the other, his firm be- 
lief that life is essentially unmoral. The 
former of these two dominant notes is par- 
ticularly accentuated in his best novel, "Mar- 
tin Birck's Youth," and in the volume of 
stories named "The Strangers." What 
presses upon Birch as he grows up is the feel- 
ing: "This is the same thing that has hap- 
pened to me before, and the same thing that 
will happen to me hereafter." It is the same 
feeling that moves one of Soderberg's most 



striking figures when he opens the compart- 
ment door of the rapidly moving train and 
then, suddenly realizing the irretrievable 
uniqueness of the death moment, clings des- 
perately to the swinging door until his arms 
lose their strength and he drops out of the 
circle of commonplaces that held him cap- 
tive. There is no help, no hope, to be drawn 
from Soderberg when he speaks in this tone 
— and yet I wonder whether just then he is 
not often most worth reading. Not as a seer, 
standing outside of life and helping to dis- 
entangle its knots, must we regard him; but 
as a symptom, a typical phase of modern 
life, a victim crying out a lesson from within 
the prison that holds both him and his read- 
ers. And as such he has many qualities in 
common not only with Huysmans, but also 
with Galsworthy, as the latter appears in 
"Fraternity," for instance. 

The men that move through the pages of 
Soderberg are first cousins to Huysmans' 
Des Esseintes and Durtel. And yet they 
differ radically both in spirit and behavior. 


The characters created by the Swede are not 
exactly worm-eaten — not physically tainted 
— not given to cravings after monstrous and 
unnatural diversions. No, they are just tired 
— of themselves, of the world, of life itself. 
And the cause of this fatigue, that sends 
one or two of them into premature death 
and dooms the rest to a futile existence, lies 
in what they look for at the hands of life. 
All of them seek the meaning of life in its 
pleasures and achievements, not in its pains 
and efforts. All of them reek with that false 
estheticism against which so many of the 
greatest among the Scandinavian writers- 
men like Kierkegaard, Ibsen, and Strind- 
berg — ^have in turn thundered. 

When I was reading Strindberg's novel, 
"The Gothic Rooms," published four or five 
years ago, I turned from it in horror with 
the exclamation: "That cannot possibly be 
true to life!" Reading Soderberg more re- 
cently, I realized suddenly that Strindberg 
must have been right, and that any exaggera- 
tion of which he possibly were guilty did not 


pass in degree beyond what the artist must 
employ for the accomplishment of his 
intended effect. Reading Soderberg, I be- 
thought myself also of the political and eco- 
nomic disturbances that have characterized 
the latest decade of Swedish history. And it 
came home to me that, perhaps, in these 
events and in the literary products already 
mentioned we might find complementary 
proofs of certain processes of decay and re- 
birth now at work on the Scandinavian 

Sweden is an old country. Its upper 
classes, though never parted from the lower 
ones by insurmountable barriers, have for 
centuries lived their own life apart from the 
rest of the people, and that life has been more 
bent on getting than on giving, more bent on 
using than on serving that all-pervading 
principle which some call life and others God. 
At their best, they are now idealists who have 
lost their holds on life's true meaning. They 
have dwelt too long on the heights, away 
from the invigorating influence of concrete 


existence and its hardening struggles. Now 
they are "sloughing off," so to speak — drop- 
ping away in order that lower strata, with 
unspoiled vitalities and view-points, may rise 
to the top. They seem to be suffering from 
a sort of premature senility against which the 
one effective remedy would be work — ^with 
and for their fellowmen. But of the effort 
involved in such work, as well as of its pre- 
requisite spirit of sympathetic forbearance, 
they are quite incapable. Soderberg's men 
are born old, they think always of themselves 
in the first place — all but Dr. Glass, whose 
utter self-effacement serves merely to lead 
him more hideously astray than all the rest — 
and they never experience the wondrous joy 
that springs from work done for some higher 
purpose than immediate self-satisfaction. 
But just because they are such — and because 
their faithful counterparts may be found in 
to-day's Paris and London and New York, 
not less than in the records of yesterday's 
Rome and Athens — ^just for this reason their 
traits and fates should be heeded. 


Nor can we ignore that other note on 
which Soderberg harps with what seems at 
times almost perverse insistency. It was this 
strange attitude of his toward accepted 
morals that brought upon his first novel, 
"Errors," a deluge of abuse from critics any- 
thing but squeamish. In his latest novel, 
"Dr. Glass," it is set forth with still greater 
emphasis, and with an added power of con- 
viction derived from the author's maturer 
experience. Dr. Glass is a middle-aged, un- 
married physician whose integrity equals his 
ability — and a most charming character at 
that. He is at once a man of taste and of 
honor, full of noble ideas, a man who judges 
others as tolerantly as he deals harshly with 
himself. The principal motive deciding his 
actions is a love for his fellow-beings that is 
largely tinged with pity. Among his pa- 
tients are an unctuous, elderly minister with 
an orthodox regard for a husband's "rights," 
and the sweet young woman who has been 
trapped by her own ignorance into becoming 
this minister's wife. In a moment of irre- 


pressible revolt, she begs Dr. Glass to bring 
her some relief from a relationship that has 
become unbearable. Her appeal is followed 
by a confession, first, of the love she bears to 
another man than her husband, and, sec- 
ondly, of the guilt she has incurred in letting 
the man she loves become her lover. The 
strange result of the new light in which the 
confession places his patient is the develop- 
ment in Dr. Glass of a powerful but silent 
passion. And the strangest thing of all is 
that it makes him jealous of the husband but 
not of the lover. On the contrary, the one 
thing he yearns after is to enable the woman 
he loves to give free vent to her love for an- 
other man. When all other means have 
failed, he decides to use his position as family 
physician to put the husband out of the way 
'■er. And this he carries through in such 
ig and ingenious fashion that he not 
frees himself from suspicion but makes 
atastrophe seem natural. 
yw one looks for echoes of the "Ras- 
kov" theme. But no — Soderberg is no 


imitator of Dostoyevski — ^hardly a twinge of 
remorse stirs the murderer's mind. He at- 
tends the f mieral of his victim, and then he 
gives the rest of the day to philosophical dis- 
cussion with a friend in a restaurant. After- 
wards his life resumes its former course. 
And once more we are confronted with that 
sense of life as a tedium and a disappoint- 
ment. The woman for whose happiness Dr. 
Glass has risked so much is hardly set free 
before her lover deserts her in order to repair 
his ruined affairs by means of a rich mar- 
riage. The last scene shows us Dr. Glass 
on an autumnal night outside the house of 
the widow, where, from his hiding-place, he 
is watching her pale and tear-furrowed fea- 
tures as she goes out to mail a letter which 
he knows to be meant for her faithless lover. 
And from his lips fall these words : "I guess 
life has passed me by!" 

What can be more horrible, more awesome, 
than this denouement that shows, not the 
punishment, but the futility of crime. To do 
what men call evil, and to do it without any 


of those results generally feared by men-^ 
that much is permitted to the man who has 
risen above all the "superstitions" of com- 
mon minds. But to change the course of life 
in accordance with his own wishes, even when 
those wishes are anything but selfish — ^that is 
the one thing he cannot be permitted. And 
in this peremptory refusal lies the worst pun- 
ishment that human ingenuity could possi- 
bly invent. For this reason, I think, the 
lesson of "Dr. Glass" combines with its ex- 
quisite art to make it worthy of a wider fame 
than has come to it so far. Whether the 
author has conveyed his lesson wittingly or 
not is hardly material, as I see it, for in the 
judgment of an artist's work the one thing 
that matters is what he actually manages to 
say, not what he has aimed at saying. 

Soderberg is still young. It does not 
seem to lie beyond reasonable hope that the 
coming years may bring him a new vision 
and a new faith. If such should prove the 
case, then the day cannot fail to come when 
his name will be familiar wherever the new 


spirit of the Occident — the spirit that draws 
its faith from our widening evolutionary con- 
ceptions — ^inclines men to set their faces joy- 
ously and courageously toward the future. 


THE story held me to the end, and this 
end was what ends should be in a per- 
feetly designed world. But fifteen minutes 
had not passed before I was looking back at 
the same story with a decided sense of dis- 
satisfaction. And the happy ending began, 
in particular, to seem both artificial and 

The writer, I realized, must be either a re- 
former with a poet's instinct for expression, 
or else a poet with the mor^ passion of a 
reformer burning in his heart — and what 
finer combination could be imagined than 
either one of these alternatives? Yet he had 
failed in the ultimate analysis, both as a mor- 
alist and as an artist. For esthetically — as 
I now saw his story in retrospect — it con- 
veyed the impression of a piece of otherwise 
perfect music with a beautiful but irrelevant 
Dassae-e added to its resolving cadence. And 


ethically — weU, preaching should be judged 
by its influence on human lives as actually 
lived. This story, like every other one de- 
serving the name, dealt with man's errors 
and their results. The ethical test of it must 
lie in its tendency to prevent other human 
beings from falling into the same sort of 
error — and it was right there I most doubted 
its power. 

The longer I puzzled over the strange con- 
trast between the after-taste of that story 
and the impression it produced while I was 
reading it, the more certain I became that its 
author must be a reformer by nature and a 
poet only by an act of reasoned will. Mere 
will had done wonders for him, but it had not 
sufficed to overcome the initial handicap en- 
ly. A reformer, you know, is a man 
ise mind is too insistently set on the im- 
rement of things by pressure from with- 
And all such minds seem to suffer from 
■mmon fault; or from worse than a fault: 
n an incurable ailment that one might 
le reformer's disease. Should I be ques- 


tioned concerning the nature of this widely 
spread trouble, I might describe its main 
symptom as exaggerated faith in the ef- 
ficacy OF PRECEPT. 

Of course, we should all like to have the 
world differently made in some aspects, and 
few changes could be more welcome than one 
which made us capable of learning — in the 
full sense of the term — by mere schooling. 
The earth has always been swarming with 
schoolmasters ready to tell us just how to 
live in order that all might be well with us. 
Not these, however, have been our true 
guides out of the primal mists of fear and 
ignorance and selfishness. What we prop- 
erly call "wisdom" — that is, useful interpre- 
tation of life — ^has little to do with book 
knowledge or platform oratory. It is based, 
ultimately, on mistakes made and penalties 
paid. Its principal disseminators are sorrow 
and pain. 

Nothing enters intimately and integrally 
into our natures except as the result of actual 
experience. Everything else is put on as a 


piece of clothing and quickly shed in the 
moment of crisis. Nor do we learn with 
equal effect from all that life brings us. The 
experience of its negative sides — of sorrow 
and suffering and disappointment — strikes 
home with a force not possessed by our pleas- 
ures and triumphs. Happiness — ^taking the 
word in its higher and more significant ap- 
plication — is what we live for. But happi- 
ness implies satisfaction with what is, and 
for this reason it fails to stir us after it has 
been attained. It calls to rest, not to work. 
It tempts the Faust-soul of man to bid the 
passing moment stay. Dissatisfaction, on 
the other hand, is the strongest known im- 
petus to action, to progress, to revolt. 

Seeing that most of our education must 
come from suffering, life would prove a sad 
burden, indeed, but for one saving clause. 
We are so constituted, fortunately, that we 
may experience not only through our own 
actual living, but through the living of others 
— yes, even through the lives of fictitiously 
created "others." All imaginative writing 


has for its highest purpose to let us live vica- 
riously: to let us profit by the mistakes of 
others without paying penalties that too 
often would prove fatal. What happens in 
the book or on the stage takes a place among 
what has happened concretely to ourselves. 
But in order that it may thus enter our lives 
as compelling motives, as lessons mastered, 
those vicarious experiences, those pretended 
fates of our man-made deputies, must touch 
us with the peculiar poignancy of real events. 
It is not enough that we are told — we must 
see and feel. It is not enough that we read 
or hear — ^we must be literally shaken: moved 
to the point where we unconsciously assume 
the places of those that are made to live in 
our stead. 

This brings us back again to the greater 
persuasive power possessed by life's "off- 
side"— by what pre-scientific man named 
"evil" and attributed to the ill-will of some 
infernal agent. If we make a mistake in life 
that is corrected before we have felt the full 
consequence of it, we are only too prone to 


lapse back into the self -same mistake on the 
first favorable occasion. The warning we 
received was not sharp enough. Perhaps we 
were scared for a moment or two. But with 
the "happy ending" the scare passed away 
and was soon forgotten. Thus similar situa- 
tions work in our vicarious living also — in 
the novel and the drama. When some deus 
ex machina drops from the clouds at the 
crucial moment and sets everything right, 
we fill up with the same fictitious happiness 
that is bestowed by the author on those figur- 
ing more directly in his shadow world — 
whereupon we pass on in search for another 
and more poignant sensation. 

Here lies the main reason, I think, why so 
much of the world's best poetry has to be 
classed as "pessimistic," as "grim," as "mor- 
bid." The ultimate object of all poetical cre- 
ation — as well as of most other forms of 
human activity — is to bring us more knowl- 
edge of life; and the poetry that fills this 
object cannot help but bring us sadness and 
pain and dissatisfaction. If it be of the very 



greatest kind, it may foreshadow the possi- 
bility of future escape, but this it will do, 
oh! so subtly and tentatively. And, above 
all, it will not picture our escape as already 
achieved, lest we lie down on our ears and go 
to sleep in happy reliance on the all-rightness 
of the world and ourselves. It is the Human 
and Divine Comedies — ^not the Utopias — 
that convert us. For back of all conversion 
lies a burning conviction that wrongness still 

Some poets are reformers — thank heaven ! 
Few reformers are poets — ^worse luck ! The 
typical reformer scorns art and misimder- 
stands it. He is impatient of its seemingly 
disingenuous methods, just as he is with life's 
roundabout ways of reaching results. He 
spends much of his time in hopeless search 
for shortcuts. For this reason he is fond of 
old-fashioned pedagogical methods. He 
hands out precepts when he ought to be tell- 
ing stories or painting pictures. He bela- 
bors our minds when he ought to be touching 
our hearts. And in regard to stimulative 


power a thought proportions itself to an 
emotion as a horse to a turbine engine. 

Yet there is a classical instance of a re- 
former who knew better — one who lived 
some nineteen hundred years ago in far-off 
Palestine. If one-half of what we have been 
t»Id concerning his doings be true, he was 
one of the greatest practical psychologists 
that ever trod the earth. And he became so 
through his understanding of human life as 
lived in shops and fields and chambers. He 
knew what really stirs men's souls, and what 
passes them by. He preached in parables — 
that is, in the primitive form of the short 
story and the novel. And when his disciples 
urged him for explanations and applications, 
he managed as a rule to escape their impor- 

e modem reformer who tries to leach 
ms of actual life — which means, artisti- 
— and who tacks a "moral" to the end 
tale — whether it be in the shape of an 
:al outcome or imashamed sermoniz- 
him I have to class with the cruel per- 


son who insists on revealing the course of the 
story just holding us in pleasurable sus- 
pense. Such a teacher forestalls the work- 
ings of our own minds, for one thing, and 
thereby he takes the edge from our impres- 
sions. One of the main characteristics of all 
art, and one of its principal sources of power, 
lies in its suggestiveness. By stopping short 
of exhaustive explanations, it enlists the im- 
aginative cooperation of our minds. Art 
brings us the facts to be used as material 
in the building of our experimental hfe; it 
hints temptingly at meanings and inter- 
relationships; it aids, with as much self- 
effacement as possible, in the rearing of the 
structure. Then it permits our ovm brains 
to figure out what kind of life that structure 
represents and whither it is likely to lead. 
Thus only do we become true participants in 
that life which the artist and we have built up 
together. It gives us a sense of being 
"doers" as well as readers. The whole process 
is so interesting, so closely akin to real living, 
that its utmost effects pass through 


senses and reasons into the emotional, life- 
guarding core of our innermost being. It 
is this very process which the reformer wants 
to carry out on our behalf, lest we neglect it 
or bimgle it. In other words, he will not 
TEUST us. And failing in this, he spoils his 
own game. 

I fear that all this will be held a poorly 
disguised plea for that kind of "pessimistic" 
and seemingly purposeless literature which 
is as painful to our over-refined nerves as it 
seems useless in the eyes of the serious- 
minded. And yet I have only been making 
a plea for the better understanding of life's 
laws and the make-up of our own minds — 
both among poets and reformers. 

Mother Life never obtrudes her purposes 
on us. She has no preceptorial proclivity 
whatever. Always trusting to the abim- 
dance of her own resources and the endless- 
ness of time, she lets us do as we please — 
and find out what happens. We are all her 
children, and our tastes and prejudices are 
only so many imitations of her ways. We 


don't care to have lessons forced down our 
throats like pills. We want to have knowl- 
edge insinuated into our systems under some 
pleasing guise — or else thrust at us as the 
ruthless logic of given events. While dis- 
liking intensely to be "done good," we want 
to learn what is right in the eyes of our 
mother: that vast, teeming, pushing, relent- 
less Life Urge to which all quests for first 
and last causes finally lead up. Such is the 
attitude of which we are conscious in oiu* best 
moments at least — and are not these, after 
all, the moments by which we should be 

And now, having rambled on to such a 
conclusion, it seems to me as if my definition 
of "reformer's disease" might be condensed 
and simplified. For in the end it is nothing 
but ordinary all-too-human lack of tact — 
and with "tact" we mean usually the rare 
abilty of putting oneself in the other person's 
place, an ability said to belong particularly 
to the true artist. 


ART, which merges man's sense of 
beauty with his instinct for self-ex- 
pression, lies as closfe to life as any other 
form of human activity. It is neither a fair 
bubble, too frail for serious men's considera- 
tion, nor an exotic fruit ripening for a few 
chosen spirits on some enchanted isle to 
which passage can be bought only by surren- 
der of ordinary human cares and concerns. 
On the contrary, art, seen in the light of 
modem knowledge, appears as an instru- 
ment forged by life for the promotion of its 
most essential purpose — ^its own perfection. 
Therefore, art comes to all who will receive 
it as the messenger and missionary of a 
great life force — ^nay, it is itself such a force, 
bringing with it powers of lasting value to 
our whole existence : a new vision, a new per- 
ception, a new inspiration. Out of it grows 



a keener pleasure in life, a greater harmony 
with it, a better understanding of it, and, for 
this reason, a stronger hold on it. 

Art is many things, both at once and suc- 
cessively, and it has a legitimate right to ?be 
every one of them. What these multitudi- 
nous shapes are — ^shapes that art may as- 
sume and still be art — does not concern me 
for the moment. I am now dealing with art 
in its highest form alone. To the question of 
What this form stands for, I answer unhesi- 

What life itself does with its multiform 
host of real creatures in order to accomplish 
its own perfection, that we do with the crea- 
tures to which our imaginations give a ficti- 
tious existence, whether it be in marble, on 
canvas, or in words. Life's way is undoubt- 
edly the more effective. But in the begin- 
ning of things, at least, our way is the 
kinder, and in the long run it is perhaps also 
the quicker. 

In art we set the problems of existence. 


solve them tentatively, listen to the discus- 
sion that ensues, and decide whether our so- 
lution be worthy of translation into actual 
Uving. If we find that we have met with 
failure, nothing is lost but some time and 
energy that might have been spent much 
less profitably. If we had undertaken the 
same experiment in reality — ^with ourselves 
and with the bodies and souls of our relatives 
and friends and townsmen — what a result 
there would have been, of sorrow, of pain, 
of strife, and of death! 

Art in its highest form may, therefore, be 
regarded as man's most time-saving and 
labor-saving device. In this form all art 
need not be cast, as I have already indicated, 
but toward that form all art and all the arts 
should ever be tending. Only as prepara- 
tion for it the earlier and less ambitious 
stages of art find a warrant for their con- 
tinued existence. Those who raise the cry 
of "art for art's own sake" no less than those 
who ask blindly, "What is the use of art any- 
how?" should remember that the art which 


exists for itself alone, which craves nothing 
but formal perfection, and which does not 
aim beyond pleasing the senses — ^whether it 
be the senses of the appreciator or of its own 
creator — is to the highest art what childhood 
is to mature manhood. It is a school, a mas- 
tering of means to an end. 

Man must learn to walk before he under- 
takes to fight; he must learn to read before 
he can dream of studying. In the same way 
art must develop and master a technique, it 
must wrestle with- and conquer its material, 
before it can enter on its final and only true 
mission: that of tentatively and inexpen- 
sively solving the problems of existence in 
order that, through such solutions, not only 
man's life but all life may be raised to ever 
more exalted levels of perfection. 

Implied in this conclusion we find the 
principal reason by which the cry of "art iov 
art's own sake" may be warranted. For art 
should not be subjugated to the service of 
any other vital activity except indirectly. 
The task of art, this means, is not, as has so 


often been mistakenly contended, to serve 
religion, or sex, or morals, or science, or 
man's personal desires. Art, if it be sincere, 
can submit to no other mastership than that 
of life itself — of life in all its fullness and 
majesty and glory. And by serving life, art 
serves also everything that forms part of life. 

Poetry — ^using the word to denote all 
creative, imaginative literature — ^is to prac- 
tical life what the laboratory is to science. 
It isolates distinct phases and moments of 
life under artificial conditions and is thus 
enabled to place them before us in such light 
that we perceive clear outlines of causes, re- 
lationships and motives where previously 
our eyes beheld nothing but confusion. For 
this reason its social object — its mission to 
those for whom it is written — ^may also be 
described as vicaeious functioning. 

In the books and in the theatre we live 
"by deputy," so to speak. We face danger 
and death, and we suffer all the accompany- 
ing emotions, without risking a hair on our 


heads. Experimentally—and without hav- 
ing to encounter any lurking Nemesis — we 
commit every crime and practice every vir- 
tue, hold every imaginable opinion and lead 
every conceivable form of life. Thus we 
learn one valuable lesson after another, both 
about life in general and about the intricate 
workings of our own souls. Poetry is, in- 
deed, what Matthew Arnold called it, a 
"criticism of life"; but it is so in the sense 
of being a school for better and higher and 
more effective living. And I have a strong 
suS(picion that, somehow, it serves this pur- 
pose even when it appears in the disguise 
of "dime novels" and "penny dreadfuls." 

The nature of art was to begin with en- 
tirely material, as it was aimed at nothing 
but to please the senses. Like everything 
else pertaining to man, however — like love, 
for instance — it has passed through a long 
course of evolution, the result of which has 
been a steady increase of the spiritual 
element. To-day art may be said to be ma- 


terial only in its means, while wholly spirit- 
ual in its ultimate aims; for even the pleasure 
of the senses, which still constitutes its pri- 
mary and fundamental appead, has become 
spiritualized. Thus art has developed into 
an embodiment not only of beauty, but of 
truth and goodness in forms pleasing to the 
senses. It has become a tangible and ma- 
terial representation of imited beauty, truth, 
and worth. 

Why do certain forms please us and others 
not? We reply that the pleasing ones stimu- 
late the nerves and provide normal func- 
tional exercise. But why do they produce 
this effect? Can it be that life wants to 
suggest the advantage, the vital value, of de- 
sign, of symmetry, of order? That it wants 
to tempt us into employing rhythmical and 
symmetrical processes to the greatest possi- 
ble extent? That it has provided a pleas- 
ure — in this case as in all others — that lures 
us on toward what is helpful and right? 

Everywhere life's eflfort at improvemei 


perfection, seems to have for its immediate 
object to fit us into the world we occupy by 
increasing intimacy with its laws and ten- 
dencies. And no law seems more important 
than that which demands that all progres- 
sive, constructive, creative movement be 
rhythmical. Thus, by planting in us the 
sense of beauty — ^which is at bottom a sense 
of rhythm so strong that its effects are almost 
hypnotic — life may be said in a very literal 
sense to be ever striving to place us "in tune 
with the universe." 

It is characteristic of all art with an effect- 
ive appeal that it removes us — ^that is, our 
interest, our concentrated attention — not out 
of ourselves, as is often said, but away from 
the things and feelings and thoughts with 
which our ordinary life is most closely asso- 
ciated. It cuts the ties, so to speak, between 
us and all such matters momentarily, thus 
setting us free to be ourselves more fully, to 
live our own soul-lives more intensely and 
completely, to centre our entire attention on 


those mysterious inner happenings that are 
almost inexpressible in words. Art in its 
highest forms does not produce self-forget- 
fulness but self-realization of an extraordi- 
nary intensity and vividness. 

Because art has its origin in and consti- 
tutes a particular expression of that great j 
natural impulse which makes for change and / 
improvement, it seems only logical and right / 
to hold that, other things being equal, the / 
poet who sings the praise of things as they/ 
are cannot take full rank with him who sings' 
the changing order and the day to come. 

In fact, an artist may be said to give at all 
only in so far as what he gives is new. And 
he gives greatly only in so far as he con- 
nects what is new in his work with that which 
is made old by it. The art that merely imi- 
tates may still be art, but one born with the 
mark of death on it. And the art that for- 
gets its own origins is like a shooting star 
which lights up the horizon for a brief mo- 
ment and then is no more to be seen. 


Poetry began by dealing with the past 
alone. Ages had to pass before the present 
and the future entered in at all — and even 
then they played rarely the part of central 
themes. To this day, in spite of all the 
Utopias and Apocalypses, poetry remains 
largely retrospective. And this is still more 
the case with criticism — so much so that this 
form of intellectual activity more than any 
other one tends in the direction of actual 

And jxot only are the critics constantly 
turning their eyes backward, until many of 
them can think of the future only as a hope- 
less "devolution" — ^an inglorious degenera- 
tion from the escaping glories of the past — 
but they are persistently looking to art alone 
for standards by which to judge art. Not 
only are they measuring the books of to-day 
by the life of the past, but by books in which 
that life is given them at second hand. Thus 
their course tends as a rule away from life, 
while the foremost task of the genius they 
should appreciate and interpret is to bring 


art into renewed and more complete touch 
with life. 

Of course, the critic has a right to pro- 
claim a work of art a "classic" — a model, 
that is, of what may be held the best recorded 
achievement in this particular art form* — ^but 
he must not set up such a work as a type ac- 
cording to which has to be fashioned what- 
ever is to be counted good and perfect in art. 
It is the nailing down and narrowing down 
of ideals that is dangerous : the acceptance of 
any point as the final one in the progress of 
art. As long as we do not think we have 
reached perfection, we are on the way to it; 
the moment we think ourselves arrived, our 
faces are turned away from that goal. 

The critic who forgets that tradition, or 
convention, is merely the starting point of 
new invention, that order exists only so that 
progress may grow out of it, cannot but end 
up in spiritual ossification and stultification. 
On the other hand, the artist who forgets 
that progress must have order for its foun- 


dation, that invention is nothing but the 
natural development of tradition and con- 
vention, is as inexorably headed for anarchy 
and oblivion. 

The older criticism, which approached the 
work from the sensuously esthetical stand- 
point alone, has performed its work in 
the main. Our standards of taste, so 
far as form is concerned, have been 
pretty well determined and are likely 
to remain comparatively stable hereafter. 
A process of refinement and polishing 
will probably continue as long as there 
is any art at all, but this process will no 
longer involve issues of paramount interest. 
Hereafter the contents and the spirit — ^the 
life we choose for the building of our art, and 
the attitude we take toward all life — ^will fur- 
nish the main issues in all debates of matters 
artistic. Taste will be involved as before, 
but taste will have to be considered in a new 
light: it will be the taste of the whole soul, 
^ not of the senses, or of the emotions, or of 


the intellect alone. And perhaps it will also 
be the taste of the race rather than of indi- 
vidual man. 

There are still those who would confine 
the critic's office to a dealing with nothing 
but the artistic, or esthetical, side of an art 
work, leaving the rest of what that work 
may contain to the philosopher and the mor- 
alist, or ignoring it entirely. Such speciali- 
zation, could it be carried out, would be 
bound to result in failure. The elements en- 
tering into a work of art are so intermin- 
gled; they are constantly interacting, each 
one lending force to the appeals made by the 
others. Without full consideration of all 
these elements at once and in conjunction, 
the proper appreciation and correct estimate 
of a work becomes practically impossible. It 
is inevitable, therefore, that the critic should 
be a thinker and a reformer no less than an 
artist — ^that he should judge whatever works 
come under his attention from the intellec- 


tual and ethical as well as from the purely 
esthetical view-point. 

One might aptly say of the true critic that 
he must know everything. He has not only 
to coordinate all the arts, but he must also 
be able to correlate art to human thought 
in its entirety, revealing the presence of gen- 
eral laws of life in the realm of art, and 
tracing the constant interaction between art 
and all other forms of human activity. To 
do this, he must be familiar not only with 
the chief masterpieces of the art with which 
he is dealing, but with the substance and sum 
of the most advanced thought of his own day 
in every direction. 

A critic of this kind is more concerned 
with where and how a work, an artist, an 
epoch, may have succeeded than with any 
instances of failure. The negative side can 
by no means be neglected. But it matters 
more always, both to mankind and to 
art, what has been gained than what has 
been missed, in and by any given artistic 


To reach its highest potentiality of effi- 
ciency and truth, criticism must work with 
theories just as much as science does. The 
only thing to be remembered is, that these 
theories have only the same claim to consid- 
eration and duration as those of science : they 
last as long as they "work." They are sim- 
ply tools or instruments, serving to support, 
to amplify, and to correct the critic's 
individual taste and judgment. The tenta- 
tive acceptance of such theories or princi- 
ples — ^whether worked out into a "system" 
or not — cleaves plenty of scope for the sub- 
jective spirit, the personal equation, to assert 
itself in their formulation, application and 

We hear so much about decadence in art 
and literature, and yet no two physicians 
seem to agree on a proper diagnosis of this 
mysterious disease. As I see it, there are 
two kinds of decadence : one natural and ben- 
eficial; the other wholly negative and de- 
structive. The former reduces the art ideal 


of the moment to its extreme consequences, 
thereby preparing the way for its greater 
and more vital successor. It is indirectly 
constructive by destroying what has outlived 
its period of validity and value. It is in 
reality transitory rather than decadent. The 
second form is truly decadent because essen- 
tially life-(Jenying. And it consists not only 
in the acceptMice of ennui, of everything's 
futility, as an integral part of life, but in the 
vaunting of this acceptance as a mark of 
spiritual superiority. 

Leaving this only genuine form of de- 
cadence aside, it may be asserted that even 
those periods which seem most barren have 
their use and justification as well as their 
logical explanation. At certain times the 
work to be done must needs be destructive 
rather than constructive, for art and litera- 
'e have also their autumnal and vernal 
isons, their moments of harvest and of 
ving. The character of the work cannot 
1 to be influenced by this fact. 
The imwiUingness of the human mind to 


accept leaps, no less than the inability of life 
to make leaps — notwithstanding all appear- 
ances to the contrary — ^necessitates the grad- 
ual preparation of any forward move. Be- 
fore a new ideal can be set up, the older one 
must be shaken from its throne — a task that 
is not accomplished quickly or without ex- 
penditure of much precious energy. This 
task of undermining the doomed ideal is com- 
monly performed by those who remain ortho- 
dox rather than by the heretics that herald 
the coming new. And the task consists 
largely in the overzealous reduction of yes- 
terday's truth into to-morrow's absurdity. 

Such periods, commonly fruitful in wails 
over the threatened or already consummated 
demise of all art, are genuinely decadent — 
that is, tending toward death — only in the 
sense in which a partly dismantled structure 
may be called a ruin during its period of re- 
construction. Fashions shift and vanish in 
art as elsewhere. Art forms that have served 
and outlived their purpose may die. But art 
and poetry do not die. The verse epic may 


change into the prose novel. The modern 
prose drama may supersede the historic verse 
drama. Those who are ever looking back 
for lost perfections may call this decay or 
death. But the epic and the drama live on, 
protean, ever renewed, endless in the sense 
that man himself is endless. In other words, 
no valid art form will die until man is done 
with it forever — ^just as man shall not die 
until life be done with him. 

When the pessimists, whether they be 
artists or critics or scientists, speak to us of 
decadence as if the end of all that is beauti- 
ful and good and true had come at last, it 
is well to bear in mind that the border-line 
between sleep and death has never been 
sharply defined. It happens frequently that 
one thought dead rises refreshed, glorified, 
and drunk with the memory of marvellous 

The artist's intentions are practically neg- 
ligible when his work is to be judged. They 
concern nobody but himself and the students 


of psychology. To such a degree do I hold 
this true that I am willing to apply it even 
in cases when genuine art works have fallen 
under the accusation of being "immoral." 

Although passionately jealous on behalf 
of the freedom of art and poetry, and though 
unalterably averse to any censorship but that 
exercised by the public itself, I have to ac- 
knowledge more than one instance when, 
in my opinion, the liberty demanded by 
the artist has degenerated into license, and 
plain coarseness has been put forward as 
actuality artistically viewed — all with the 
finest intentions. 

Mirbeau in France, D'Annunzio in Italy, 
and Strindberg in Sweden have furnished in- 
stances of this kind, and in each case it would 
imply serious injustice to doubt the purity of 
the offending writer's purpose. In such cases 
the critic must, of course, be no less candid 
in speaking of the work itself than in his 
tracing of the motives miderlying it. And 
his opinion of the latter must not bias his 
judgment on the former. 


What we call coarse, vulgar, vile, is noth- 
ing positive. It marks purely negative ele- 
ments—a retardation of growth, a tarrying 
behind on levels above which the larger part 
of mankind have risen. The foundation of 
art is selection, not all-inclusiveness. The 
artist whose choice by preference falls on the 
coarse and the vile may successfully defend 
his right to such a choice, but he must not 
complain if his exercise of that right be 
deemed a reason for judging his work in- 
ferior in value. The coarse or the vulgar can 
never be regarded as beautiful in itself. It 
may be needed for the completion of a pic- 
ture which nevertheless is beautiful in its en- 
tirety. The use of those elements must, 
however, depend on their inevitability in the 
picture presented. 

Modern criticism began with the assertion 
that an artist's work should be studied in the 
light of his life. We of a later day contend 
that his life, in so far as it be worthy of any 
attention at all, must be studied in the light 


thrown on it by his work. To us, viewing 
art from its appreciative or social side, the 
work is not only the more important thing 
as compared with the man, but it is also the 
more veracious, the more real thing. 

Hegel established the theory that a great 
man is the result of his time. In recent years 
the Frenchman Gabriel Tarde has divided 
mankind into inventors and imitators, and 
to the former he traces all progress made 
by the race. In these two seemingly incom- 
patible theories we find two sides of the same 

Ibsen said once that the greatest poet is 
he who stands nearest to the future. I should 
prefer to say that he is greatest who roots 
himself most firmly in the past while reaching 
farthest into the future. The great artist, 
like every great man, absorbs into his own 
soul the essence of what the race has thought 
and felt and aspired up to that time. To 
this he adds something that is wholly his own. 
But the mere fact that he has made such an 



addition does neithei* establish his greatness 
nor carry the race forward. What follows 
is a process of natural selection. Each artist 
offers his contribution to the mass of men, 
and only what is favored and accepted by 
that mass goes into the race-life and becomes 
feelings, thoughts, and deeds from which 
springs the future. 

In the course of this process, which goes 
on without interruption in the field of artistic 
endeavor as well as everywhere else, the mass 
picks with unerring precision not what is 
absolutely best, if such a thing may be said 
to exist, but what is best for them, best for 
the moment. Side by side with the worksthat 
gains the sanction of their applauding imita- 
tion may stand another one totally unheeded 
or ignominiously rejected — a work which, 
nevertheless, by some later day and genera- 
tion may be proclaimed its adequate expres- 
sion and supreme model. So it must be. No 
injustice has been done. The work that ap- 
pears before the hour to which it belongs will 
have to wait in obscurity — or die as surely 


as the bird of passage returning north while 
the ice still lies thick on river and lake. 

"Art," said Richard Wagner, "is not a 
product of mind alone, which produces 
science, but also of that deeper impulse 
which is imconscious." 

This reservation against the part ascribed 
to conscious intellect by a time priding itself 
on its cold rationality does not mean that the 
artist gets by divine grace all that is needed 
for his art ; that he has but to sit down with 
crossed hands and wait for the call of inspira- 
tion, or that, in spite of his wholly passive 
attitude, all the wisdom of the ages will flow 
into his work. 

His part it is to prepare himself for the 
sacrament which the conception and birth of 
every true art work constitutes. This he 
must do by constant observation and study, 
by exercise of the widest and most tolerant 
sympathy, and, above all, by disciplining his 
soul until all narrowly self-interested aims 



and desires have become subordinated to his 
life purpose. 

The outward form of his work is like a 
vessel of wondrous beauty, sweet and satis- 
fying and soul- warming to behold. Life has 
granted him the skill and the fancy needed 
to shape it. But it must have some kind of 
content lest it fall short of its purpose — of 
the end for which Life wanted it formed. 
And it is the artist's spirit that will give the 
contents, which must be poured into the 
vessel until it is full to overflowing. 

Nothing else the vessel can or may hold. 
And on him, the artist — ^not on "time and 
place and circumstance," or on tradition, or 
on any outside cause — ^will it depend in the 
last instance whether that spirit shall be vul- 
gar or refined, ignorant or informed, narrow 
or catholic, self-seeking or self -surrendering, 
life-retarding or life-promoting. 

And let me, with recurrence to a previous 
thought, add this: It is the inspiration of 
the artist that counts, not his intention; it 
is the spirit speaking through him, often in- 


dependently of his conscious reason, that 
stamps his work in its relation to the forward 
urge of Life — and that spirit is not neces- 
sarily the one of which he speaks or for 
which he pleads in his work. 

The poetry that prevailed until recently 
was sometimes supernaturalistic and some- 
times naturalistic, but it was always fatal- 
istic. The poetry of the new day will be 
humanistic and optimistic. It will combine 
a frank and open-eyed recognition of man's 
tremendous odds with a firm faith in his 
power of surmounting them. It will be 
guided and inspired by understanding of 
man's real nature as well as of the true basis 
of his happiness, and it will use its glories 
to urge him in the right direction. 

This new poetry will, above all, keep in 
mind man's dual nature: the indissoluble 
connection between the racial and individual 
aspects of his existence. Thus it will be able 
to escape the tragical "either-or" of the older 
literature — ^that fatal determination to real- 



ize the absolute or confess all life a dismal 
failure. Having known only two moods — 
the futile rebellion of pessimism, and the 
fatuous faith of blind idealism; neither one 
of which was able to give full expression to 
life's reality — poetry will now eschew both 
in order to imbue itself with the spirit of 
rational optimism, or meliorism: the faith 
that all the evils of human existence are 
gradually remediable through disinterested 
and concerted himian action. 

The new humanism, with which art and 
poetry, as well as philosophy and science, are 
now pregnant, may be said to have three 
dimensions, thus proving itself a truly living 
thing. First it has length — so far as man is 
concerned, man himself is the centre of the 
universe and the "measure of all things." 
Then it has width — ^nothing less than the 
whole race can be embraced in man's feeling 
of kinship and solidarity. Finally it has 
height — ^nothing short of divinity, ov all-in- 
clusive consciousness without limit in time 



or space, can be accepted as the final goal of 
man's aspiration. 


1. Art is one of the main human mani- 
festations of that vital urge which carries 
existence beyond mere preservation to never- 
ending perfection. 

2, The fundamental principle in all art, 
including poetry, is form — ^its primary ap- 
peal must always be directed to the senses. 
Without beauty of form a work may have 
value, but it cannot be called artistic. On 
the other hand, art may have nothing but 
formal beauty and yet be art. But to pro- 
duce wide and lasting impression — to be 
great, in other words — art must combine 
beauty of thought, feeling and form. 

8. The artist, viewing art from its indi- 
vidual and creative side, regards it rightly 
as a purpose in itself. He aims at nothing 
but giving perfect expression to whatever 
stirs his imagination. This is in keeping with 


the universal law of expediency, which makes 
the means of life appear to us as ends in 

4. The critic, approaching art from its 
social and appreciative side, considers it 
in all its relations to the rest of life, 
taking into accoimt not only its appeal to 
the senses, but also its emotional and intel- 
lectual suggestiveness. 

5^' The critical process embraces analysis, 
classifioetion and judgment. In the course 
of it the critic has to consider form, which 
serves particularly to relate a work to the 
past; subject matter, which relates it to the 
present, and spirit, which relates it to the 

6. Anything in a work of art that cannot 
be understood or properly appreciated with- 
out reference to something outside the work 
itself must be held artistically irrelevant and 
worthless. The intentions of the artist, or 
the intimacies of his private life, can have no 
bearing on the enduring value of his work, 
and they are not germane to criticism, 


although they may be considered to advan- 
tage from psychological and sociological 

7. To find the relative value of any work 
of art or art current the critic must avail 
himself of three standards of comparison, 
none of which can be disregarded with- 
out endangering his judgment. These 
are: (a) coordinate artistic production; 
(b) our sum total of knowledge concerning 
the circumstances, laws, and tendencies of 
life; (c) prevailing esthetical, ethical, and 
intellectual ideals. 

8. The object of critical comparison is not 
so much valuation, in the sense of an award 
of rank, as determination of the exact quality 
and degree of originality possessed by the 
work — what it gives the world that no other 
work has given before : of beauty in form, in 
feeling, in thought. 

9. The ultimate value of art, in so far as 
it comes within the power of any one critic 
to ascertain it, lies in its contribution to the 
sum total of human culture. This contribu- 


tion is measured by the extent to which a 
work renders man's conceptions of beauty, 
worth, and truth more clear, more refined, 
and more human. 

10. For critical purposes it is of greater 
importance to regard art as a cause than as 
an effect; to ascertain its direction rather 
than its origin; to search it for forebodings 
of the future rather than for reflections of 
the past. 

11. The critic has to make a clear distinc- 
tion between the actual cultural value still 
possessed by the art of the past and its rela- 
tive value when viewed historically. The 
former value is the only one that directly 
concerns the general reader of the present 

12. In order that it may take its proper 
place in the general body of systematized 
human knowledge, criticism must accept for 
its own use certain formulas and theories 
embodying the main lessons drawn from the 
past in regard to the nature, functions, and 
aims of art. To obtain from these their full 


possibility of usefulness they must be co- 
ordinated into some kind of system. But 
this must be done for the sake of expediency 
alone, and not in order to make everlasting 
and supposedly sacred truths out of what 
can only be recognized as tentative theories — 
as tools that are to be used so long as they 
remain effective and are not replaced by 
other, better ones. 

JUL 2 7 V<'.r